“How was your day?”: Development of Interactional Competence located in Today Narrative sequences

Younhee Kim and Andrew P. Carlin

Abstract

Based on longitudinal conversation data between a father and child collected over the period of eighteen months, this study examines “today narrative” where the father asks the child “how was your day” when they meet after being apart during the day. The routine provides a recurrent sequential structure, which is both located within and itself occasions further talk. Examining the talk between this father and child longitudinally reveals how the initial sequential structure, where the child lists activities in short run-on sentences, goes through transformation and elaboration. Indices for development include the emergence of three-part structure in the child’s list construction, more details incorporated in the list, story prefaces, and the emergence of assessment response (or personal voice). The overall sequential organization of the routine moves from heavy reliance on the father’s questions to more volunteered talk by the child. This paper considers the generalizability of longitudinal conversation analytic data.

Keywords:
Publication history
Table of contents

Children learn how to talk by participating in social interaction with their parent and other members of the society. These “‘parent’-‘child’ interactions” are regularly mediated by routinized activities such as bedtime story reading (Tolmie and Rouncefield 2013), dinner time conversations (Blum-Kulka 1997; Keel 2016), playing with toys, getting dressed, washing hands before meals, etc. By participating in these activities with their parent or some other members of the family, children learn language as well as interactional procedures, i.e. how to participate in social interaction. One learning mechanism that operates here is the commonplace and recurrent activity and observability of the structures of routine actions. In this sense, one can say that routinized activities provide instructional features. By examining one routinized sequence in “‘parent’-‘child’ interaction” over time, what we aim to do in this paper is to document the development of Interactional Competence of one child, which we hope will contribute to our understanding of the complex relationship between social interaction and children’s development.

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