The face of communication breakdown: Multimodal repair in L2 oral proficiency interviews
J. Dylan Burton, Michigan State University
Volume 10, Issue 2, 2021
Abstract: All communication entails moments of breakdown and repair. Research has shown that test-takers in oral proficiency interviews use both verbal and nonverbal behaviors to navigate these breakdowns, which may occur more often in online speaking tests than face-to-face settings. While individuals are often idiosyncratic in their baseline nonverbal behavior, it is unknown to what extent speakers resemble or differ from each other during moments of repair. To date, a research agenda including a broader range of embodied behavior in the context of language tests is lacking. In this study, four Zoom-based video recordings of second language tests were used to investigate seven categories of behavior and their alignment with speech during moments of other-initiated repair., This contribution uses multimodal conversation analysis to analyze differences in behavior amongst the participants and how those patterns align with the turn-by-turn nature of repair. The analysis shows that participants varied substantially in both the frequency and duration of each type of behavior during repair, and furthermore differed in how they combined these during their interaction with the examiner. The study highlights the need for more research in how individuals demonstrate their interactional competence both verbally and nonverbally for greater construct representation in second language speaking tests.
Keywords: NVB, repair, miscommunication, speaking assessment, language testing