“Well, I think that…”: A Conversation Analysis approach to discourse in the classroom
Cameron notes in Working with Spoken Discourse that discourse analysts often privilege everyday conversations as being the most “natural”, thus marking structured conversation as being “unnatural” and therefore less valid (Cameron 20). The idea of the ordinary and the mundane being the more “natural” also takes hold in sociolinguistics, particularly in Labovian sociolinguistics, in which the vernacular is privileged in a similar way as being the most “natural” form of speech and the most valid for study. However, Cameron challenges this assumption, noting that “[a]ll talk is shaped by the context in which it is produced,” (Cameron 20), thus making all talk valid for study and analysis of the various factors that shape talk. Based on Cameron’s argument, I decided to analyze the discourse of classroom discussion and uncover the means by which turn-taking is negotiated, and the means by which students introduce information whose accuracy may be questioned into a discussion.