The dialogical nature of language use in interactive listening : revisiting meaning in context

Huang, Alan (2020) The dialogical nature of language use in interactive listening : revisiting meaning in context. Language Awareness, 29 (1). pp. 21-40. ISSN 1747-7565 (

[thumbnail of Huang-LA2019-The-dialogical-nature-of-language-use-in-interactive-listening]
Text. Filename: Huang_LA2019_The_dialogical_nature_of_language_use_in_interactive_listening.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (472kB)| Preview


Adopting a broader dialogical conceptual lens on interactive listening, this study examines advanced adult learners' language use and thought processes during a problem-solving task. Twenty English as a second language (L2) students from a Scottish university participated in the study. They worked in pairs on the task before taking part in retrospective interviews. In contrast to previous studies which investigated peer interactions, the participants in the present study were from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The analysis shows that L2 listeners utilise a range of verbal and non-verbal discursive practices, including reception strategies, as they negotiate and co-construct a shared understanding. Furthermore, their language use is embedded in an understanding of the sociocultural and discursive norms of both the settings of this study and the backgrounds of the interlocutor. The findings also indicate that rather than being static, listeners' perceptions of themselves and the others are contingent upon the dynamic interpersonal relationship in communication. The article argues for a need to broaden our understanding of what meaning-in-context in interactive listening entails: when listeners take on an active role, not only do they listen in the conventional sense, but they also become the co-regulator of the discourse.