Artifacts, gestures and dispensable speech

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The chapter examines the nature of embodied, multimodal language use in science training in a segment of an interaction where a Japanese professor and a Chinese student engaged in teaching and learning a basic laboratory technique. The analysis, informed by ethnomethodological and conversation analytic studies of learning, reveals how the participants’ coordinated, non-verbal conduct played a critical role in the professor’s instruction and the student’s indication of understanding, which in turn mutually affected each other. The student’s limited proficiency in Japanese, the chosen language of instruction, was not explicitly problematized during this interaction, but her ability to demonstrate understanding by acting appropriately in accordance with the ongoing development of the professor’s instruction was treated as essential for this apprenticeship learning.


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