Interactional competence in the institutional setting of the international university: talk and embodied action as multimodal assets in conversational turn-construction



This project has investigated the social practices of administrative staff and international students in their encounters with one another at an international university.

Utilizing video data from administrative staff-student interactions within the multilingual and multicultural environment of an international university, the project has investigated how co-participants in institutional interaction invoke a range of semiotic resources to manage their talk-in-interaction. The international university affords a rich environment in which I will be able to observe these practices, as there is a large variety of interactions which necessitate satisfactory negotiations and which rely on talk, bodily conduct and material and graphic structures in the environment (Goodwin, 2003; Hindmarsh & Heath, 2003).


Conversation Analysis (CA) has provided the main methodological orientation for the research, supplemented by ethnographic fieldwork carried out at an international university. As the principal site for CA investigation is that of spoken communication, I extend the analysis to include elements of Context Analysis (Kendon, 1990) and Interaction Analysis (Jordan & Henderson, 1995).  Both these approaches share CA’s commitments to how they treat the phenomena of human interaction. None use contrived data or experimental settings, each favouring as its object of study samples of interaction that have actually taken place in naturally occurring environments.

The current research offers a synthesis of the analytic orientations, specifically in foregrounding the reflexive, conjoint, and co-reliant nature of the multiple modalities, rather than emphasizing one modality over another.


The research has investigated the integrated multimodal communication phenomena as potentially important interactional features of institutional discourse in the multilingual context of the international university. I have aimed to shed light on the following questions:

  1. 1.How do co-participants in talk-in-interaction orient to embodied framing devices produced in conjunction with linguistic utterances by one another, and reflexively produce their turns within the sequential organization as multimodal semiotic fields of communicative resource?

  2. 2.Can we explicate an order of embodied interaction that enacts-into-being the institution of the international university through multiple semiotic resources, including those non-verbal, and if so, how can we characterize what sort of institution it is from this perspective?

  3. 3.In the multilingual and multicultural setting of the     International University, what are the conditions in which participants can optimize their interactional competence, and how might this be characterized given the setting?

Through the micro-analysis of video data of naturally occurring interaction in an international university, the initial explication of verbal practices in the organization of talk-in-interaction has been supplemented with an additional level of analysis of the concomitant embodied actions which are systematically employed, and oriented to by the participants. The resulting analysis has provided for a thicker, more holistic, description of interactional competence within such multicultural, multilingual settings, and provides insights into the possibilities for an expansion of the study of talk-in-interaction to include modalities other than the spoken.

The research that has been written up to date has reported on practices involving such situated resources as objects and other situated structures in the local environment, postural orientation, gesture, gaze, convergent trajectories of movement and language choice. Two other methodological articles have considered the technological tools for doing such research, and the impact these technologies also have on the research setting.


Publications and Presentations

Research publications (peer reviewed) 

Hazel, Spencer and Johannes Wagner (in prep.) L3 and L2 integrated learning –lingua franca use in developing an additional language in the classroom. To appear in Seedhouse, Paul and Christopher Jenks (eds.) International Perspectives on the ELT classroom. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Hazel, Spencer and Kristian Mortensen (in prep.) Embodied (re-)orientation in turn-beginnings. To appear in Rasmussen, Gitte, Kristian Mortensen and Spencer Hazel (eds.) Special Issue: ‘A body of resources -CA studies of social conduct’, Journal of Pragmatics (projected publication date Spring 2013)

Hazel, Spencer (in review) Cultivating objects in interaction – visual motifs as meaning making practices in talk-in-interaction. To appear in Maurice Nevile, Pentti Haddington, Trine Heinemann and Mirka Rauniomaa (eds). Interacting with Things: The Sociality of Objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins

Hazel, Spencer and Janus Mortensen (forthc.) Kitchen talk – Exploring linguistic practices in liminal institutional interactions in a multilingual university setting. In Hartmut Haberland, Dorte Lønsmann and Bent Preisler (eds.) Language alternation, language choice and language encounter in international education. Dordrecht: Springer.

Hazel, Spencer, Janus Mortensen and Hartmut Haberland (2012) Transcription linking software: integrating the ephemeral and the fixed in interaction research. In Ikeda, Keiko and Adam Brandt (eds.) Proceedings for the symposium ‘Challenges and New Directions in the Micro-Analysis of Social Interaction’, Kansai University, Osaka

Mortensen, Janus and Spencer Hazel (2012) The data cycle. Proceedings for symposium ‘Challenges and New Directions in the Micro-Analysis of Social Interaction’, Kansai University, Osaka

Mortensen, Kristian and Spencer Hazel (2011) Initiating round robins in the L2 classroom – preliminary observations. Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language): 5(1): 55-70

Research publications (other)

Mortensen, Kristian and Spencer Hazel (in prep.) Moving into an interaction - embodied practices for initiating interactions at a help desk counter

Hazel, Spencer (in prep.) Living in a material world -- on the interactional affordances of artefacts operationalized in institutional encounters (included in PhD thesis)

Hazel, Spencer (in prep.) Turning the paradox on its head – research participants doing being just that (included in PhD thesis)

Journal editing

Rasmussen, Gitte, Kristian Mortensen and Spencer Hazel (in prep.)

Special Issue: A body of resources - CA studies of social conduct, Journal of Pragmatics (projected publication date Spring 2013)

Conference and symposium papers

Visual leitmotifs – tracking recurrent gestures in sequences of talk

Spencer Hazel

ISGS - International Society for Gesture Studies, July 2012 Lund, Sweden

The CALPIU Storehouse

Julie de Molade, Anne Fabricius, Spencer Hazel & Janus Mortensen

CALPIU’12: Higher education across borders: Transcultural interaction and linguistic diversity, Apr 2012, Roskilde, Denmark

Lending a hand – the embodiment of epistemic authority in international study guidance encounters

Spencer Hazel

CALPIU’12: Higher education across borders: Transcultural interaction and linguistic diversity, Apr 2012, Roskilde, Denmark

Multimodal micro-analysis of social interaction in a multilingual university setting

Janus Mortensen & Spencer Hazel

Symposium on Challenges and New Directions in the Micro-Analysis of Social Interaction, Feb 2012, Kansai University Osaka, Japan

Developing the surround in interaction

Spencer Hazel

MOVIN network meeting, Nov 2011 University of Southern Denmark, Odense

Cultivating objects in interaction: sowing seeds of content in the visuospatial field

Spencer Hazel

Anglo-Japanese seminar on technology and social interaction, Sep 2011, Royal Society, London, UK

Moving into an interaction, moving into a turn: embodied (re-)orientation in turn beginnings

Spencer Hazel & Kristian Mortensen

10th Conference for the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (IIEMCA 2011), July 2011, Fribourg, Switzerland

Initiating round robins in the second language classroom

Spencer Hazel & Kristian Mortensen

International Conference of Conversation Analysis (ICCA), June 2010, Mannheim, Germany

An unwelcome guest? The Non-NNS at the lingua franca table

Spencer Hazel

Third International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF3), June 2010, Vienna, Austria

“Good morning Tokyo! Good evening New York! Good afternoon London!” Discourse features in educational L2 podcasting: pedagogical implications and opportunities

Spencer Hazel

Annual Conference for British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) Sep 2009, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Other CALPIU related presentations

The CALPIU Storehouse

MOVIN meeting Autumn 2010, 04 Nov 2010, Århus University

Various graduate school presentations: Copenhagen, Odense. SCALPS (CUID Roskilde)

Assorted data sessions: Roskilde, Odense, Århus, Sønderborg, Osaka, Neuchatel.

Research workshops

Running of research methods workshops on transcription and CLAN transcription software:

o Temple University, Osaka (29 Apr 2011);

o King’s College London (11-13 Jul 2012) (consultancy)

o CALPIU Research Training Course, Roskilde (27-31 Aug 2012)

and together with Janus Mortensen:

o CUID, RUC (6-8 Sept 2011)

o King’s College London (26-28 October 2011), and

o Kansai University, Osaka (20-21 Feb 2012)