Ratifying unsolicited displays of insights

Catherine E. Brouwer, University of Southern Denmark

This study is based on videorecorded interactional data from a specific type of institutional setting which consists of a variety of  ‘language stimulation activities’ for bilingual children in Danish preschools. Bilingual children, with a variety of linguistic backgrounds, take part in these activities in small groups together with a specialized preschool teacher. One pervasive feature of this kind of data is the ongoing orientation to, and guidance from the adult towards the children on what the main business of their interaction is – what they relevantly are doing. In this light, the paper explores childrens’ unsolicited displays of insights or understandings, particularly displays which can not readily be understood as inherent to the structured activity at hand. The analysis pinpoints the ways in which such displays may or may not be treated as relevant for the business at hand: Unsolicited displays may lead to side sequences, they may lead to a shift in the main business of the talk, or they may be explicitly or implicitly ignored. The paper discusses whether and how these unsolicited displays of understanding then can be thought of as leading to opportunities for (language) learning and contrasts it to the widely studied IRF/IRE pattern in educational contexts. The activities were videotaped, transcribed and analysed according to principles and procedures of Conversation Analysis.