The use of requests for confirmation in SLP organized learning activities

Gitte Rasmussen, Centre for Social Practices and Cognition, University of Southern Denmark

This Conversation Analytic (CA) study focuses on communication and language learning activities in Denmark, in which adults suffering from a variety of speech-and language disorders, due to brain injuries, participate. The activities are organized by Danish speech and language pathologists (SLP). Central to these activities is the continuous interactional work that the participants carry out in order to establish that the minimally speaking client understands questions posed by the speaking SLP and to establish that SLP understands the answer produced by the client.

The paper focuses on interactional methods used for the purpose of securing such intersubjectivity, namely SLP’s primarily language based requests for confirmations of responses produced by the client. The latter is produced either as a minimal response based primarily on language or as an extended response to which other communicative resources such as gestures, gaze or vocalizations are central. The analysis shows how a request for confirmation not only works to confirm SLP’s understanding of a response, but also makes a self-repair carried out by the client relevant (Jefferson 1980). With a request for confirmation thus, SLP (other) initiates repair (Schegloff 1992).

The paper presents a collection-based description of the phenomenon. Examples that have been transcribed in accordance with CA principles will be provided in a handout. In addition the paper will show one video-clip and example of a specific environment in which the method is used. In this example requests for confirmation are employed to establish an understanding of a client’s reading strategy.

The paper discusses whether and how requests for confirmation secure an understanding of what the non-speaking client wants, thinks, believes or does, and whether the achieved understanding can be used for further SLP organized learning curriculum development.


Jefferson, G. 1980. The Abominable Ne?: Post-Response-Initiation Response-Solicitation. Dialogforschung. Sprache der Gegenwart. Düsseldorf: Pädagogischer Verlag Schwann.

Schegloff, E.A. (1992) Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation, American Journal of Sociology, 98:1295-1345