'Hello everyone, welcome to my presentation': Talk about talk in student synchronous versus asynchronous online presentations

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Reflexivity is approached though a model of metadiscourse, focusing on the discourse itself (metalinguistic function), the writer-speaker (expressive function) and the real or imagined audience (directive function). The model is applied to a net-based teaching context and students’ synchronous (N=6) and asynchronous (N=9) presentations are compared, including multimodal aspects.

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Reflexivity refers to the capacity of natural languages for referring to, or describing, themselves, or to language that is used to comment on and manage language and discourse itself (cf. Hockett (1960) and Lyons (1977:5)). This paper approaches reflexivity through a model of metadiscourse (Ädel 2006). Many studies of metadiscourse adopt a loose definition of metadiscourse as ‘discourse about discourse’. A more precise definition adopted here is that metadiscourse involves “reflexive linguistic expressions referring to the evolving discourse itself or its linguistic form, including references to the writer-speaker qua writer-speaker and the (imagined or actual) audience qua audience of the current discourse” (Ädel 2010:75). The model is based on three of Roman Jakobson’s functions of language. As reflected in the definition, the main components of metadiscourse include the discourse itself (the metalinguistic function) and also potentially the writer-speaker (the expressive function) and the real or imagined audience (the directive function). The model is applied to data from a net-based teaching context: an MA programme in English Linguistics, where students present summaries of and critical responses to published research articles. This is done synchronously (in class) and asynchronously (recording outside of class). The synchronous material includes six ten-minute student oral presentations with visual support and the asynchronous material nine such presentations. The research questions are: How is metadiscourse used by the student presenters? What might the use of metadiscourse reveal about the students’ audience awareness? To what extent are there differences in the use of metadiscourse that can be associated with the two communicative contexts (synchronous versus asynchronous)? Since the presentations are multimodal, it will also be examined to what extent the use of metadiscourse is supported by visual resources.

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Dalarna University

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