Performance for Introverts?

Weber, Silja (2019) Performance for Introverts? Scenario: A Journal of Performative Teaching, Learning, Research, XIII (2). pp. 136-153. ISSN 1649-8526


A common preconception about performance in the foreign language classroom sees performance as geared towards extroverts: students who readily contribute to verbal classroom interaction in any case. If true, this claim would be particularly problematic when advocating not only for the integration of isolated instances of performance, but for a fundamentally performance-based approach to language teaching. Such an approach would then further widen the gap between those participants who are more and those who are less comfortable in underdefined social spaces. This article draws on data from a larger study on FL classroom interaction and student agency during performance activities in intermediate German classes. Conversation analytic methods are used to trace how participation for one very reticent student evolves over the course of an intensive summer class. The development happens during extended performance activities with a Teacher-in-Role (TiR) strategy, and in particular due to the initiative of his classmates to shape a welcoming social space. They offer a range of carefully crafted participation openings, and the quiet student responds and later initiates conversational moves on his own. This case study provides discourse based, micro-analytic support for previous claims about the benefits of performance for class dynamics and participation.

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