‘Now we are teachers’: The role of small talk in student language teachers’ telecollaborative task development

Melinda Dooly, Vincenza Tudini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier B.V. While a number of investigations of online language learning behaviours are available, there are currently few ‘micro’ analytic studies that explore the role of different types of small talk to complete institutional tasks online. This study focuses in particular on an institutionally-initiated, out-of-class telecollaborative Skype video exchange between two student teachers based in the US and Spain (studying to become Spanish as Foreign Language and English as Foreign Language teachers, respectively). Building upon Hudak and Maynard's (2011) proposal of four varieties of small talk (topicalized, co-topical, minimal and brief), this study looks at the way in which these student–teachers deploy different varieties of small talk in order to advance towards a mutual, task-oriented goal during Skype sessions held over two days. The study highlights the important role of co-topical talk, which is at the same time pro-social and work-related, in preparing the ground for seemingly ‘off-topic’ topicalized small talk and the achievement of institutional teaching and learning objectives in a hybrid social–institutional setting. It also provides evidence that topicalized small talk may promote creativity and epistemic change, leading to advancement of new ideas for elaboration during work-related talk, and implementation in a real life professional setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Conversation analysis
  • Institutional interaction
  • Online interaction
  • Small talk
  • Social interaction
  • Telecollaboration


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