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ET228-15 Analysing Spoken Discourse

Applied Linguistics
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Tilly Harrison
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

What does spoken language contribute to the world? In this module we will investigate the importance of spoken interaction for creating relationships, establishing identity and consolidating community. We will explore the concept of language itself and trace how theories have incrementally increased current linguists' understanding. We will note the growing realisation of the interaction between context and meaning as well as the fundamental position of spoken discourse in the fabric of society. The module will provide you with skills of recording and transcribing what you hear around you in order to analyse natural every day conversation. From that analysis you will be able to gain insights into a range of issues such as power dynamics, identity work, politeness and discursive practices.

Module web page

Module aims

The module aims to teach students to use a wide range of contemporary approaches suitable for the analysis of spoken discourse as linked to context.
This module will contribute primarily to the achievement of Course Aims #1, #3, #5, #8, #9, #10 and #11:

  1. Provide a thorough grounding in the theories and research findings related to linguistics and the English Language.
  2. Enable students to analyse language in general and the English language in particular at every level from the word to its place in society at large.
  3. Provide a solid foundation in relevant research skills and methods both quantitative and qualitative.
  4. Prepare students for future employment, and for further study or training, by developing intellectual acuity, flexibility and independence, and by providing opportunity for the development of transferable skills
  5. Enable students to undertake an in-depth study of issues relating to English language and linguistics.
  6. Enable students to develop the ability to learn independently and to gain intellectual breadth and flexibility.
  7. To provide high-quality teaching informed by research at an appropriate level for students choosing to pursue careers as teachers in secondary schools, or as future teachers and researchers in higher education.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The module will cover the following broad topic areas.

  • Key figures in Linguistics
  • Talk in Context
  • Speech Acts
  • Interaction Structures (turn taking and repair)
  • Transcription of spoken language
  • Discursive Practices
  • Talk and Identity
  • Style and Stance
  • Discourse Communities
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • trace the development of the theories which help understanding of spoken interaction
  • transcribe a stretch of spoken interaction with appropriate annotation for analysis
  • analyse a spoken interaction in terms of its context, participant framework, register and use of interactional resources
  • discuss the significance of features found in spoken data as regards the discursive practices they may demonstrate
  • critically analyse the usefulness of a range of theoretical approaches to the understanding of spoken language
Indicative reading list
  1. Illustrative Bibliography
    Abu-Akel, A., (2002). The psychological and social dynamics of topic performance in family dinnertime conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 34 (12), pp.1787-1806
    Austin, J.L. (1962). How to do things with words. Harvard University Press
    Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge University Press
    Clancy, B. (2016) Investigating Intimate Discourse: Exploring the spoken interaction of families, couples and friends (Domains of Discourse). Routledge
    Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of talk. University of Pennsylvania Press
    Goodwin, C. & A. Duranti (1992). (Eds.) Rethinking context: language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge University Press
    Grice, H.P. (1989). Logic and conversation. In H.P. Grice (Ed.) Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press
    Hanks, W.F. (1996). Language and Communicative Practices. Westview
    Hymes, D. (1974). Foundations in sociolinguistics: an ethnographic approach. University of Pennsylvania Press
    Ochs, E. (1979). Transcription as theory. In E.Ochs & B. Schieffelin, Eds. Developmental Pragmatics. Academic Press
    Ochs, E. (2002). Becoming a speaker of culture. In C.J. Kramsch (Ed.) Language acquisition and language socialisation: Ecological perspectives. Continuum
    Pichler, P. & Eppler, E. (2009). (Eds.) Gender and spoken interaction. Palgrave Macmillan
    Sacks, H., E.A. Schegloff & G. Jefferson (1978). A simplest systematics for the organisation of turn taking for conversation. In J.N. Schenkein Ed. Studies in the organisation of conversational interaction. Academic Press (originally 1974)
    Stenstrom, A. (1994). Introduction to Spoken Interaction. Routledge
    Ten have, P. (2007). 2nd ed. Doing conversation Analysis. Sage.
    Tracy, K. & Robles, J.S. (2013). 2nd ed. Everyday talk: Building and reflecting identities. Guildford.
    Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press
    Young, R.F. (2008). Language and interaction: an advanced resource book. Routledge

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Research element

Students will collect naturally occurring conversation data and analyse it according to the frameworks covered in the module. A modified ethics form will be used to ensure that all appropriate consideration has been given to the age, capacity and willingness of the participants. This will be reviewed and approved by the module leader before any data is collected. Participant Information Leaflets will be distributed and signed consent forms obtained. The latter will be submitted with the assignment.


The analysis of linguistic data is applicable across a range of disciplines.


The skills and approaches taught in the module are relevant to the examination of intercultural communication.

Subject specific skills

Planning and executing spoken data collection including obtaining informed consent from participants
Transcription of spoken data using appropriate annotation
Understanding the importance of context and describing the spatio-temporal aspects of the interaction in detail
Analysis of spoken discourse using linguistic and interactional approaches
Explanation of key linguistic concepts as they pertain to the data collected
Critical discussion of various theoretical approaches to the data
Elucidation of findings in terms of the discursive practices, relationships, identities and discourse communities involved

Transferable skills

Planning and managing a small-scale project including appropriate time management
Using technology appropriately to record and transcribe data
Working effectively with others in group tasks
Finding and evaluating relevant previous research; extrapolating its relevance to new data
Choosing relevant conceptual frameworks for the analysis of the collected data
Applying descriptive frameworks to real-life data
Critical evaluation of key concepts, models and research
Academic writing including appropriate referencing of sources

Study time

Type Required Optional
Lectures 9 sessions of 2 hours (14%)
Tutorials (0%) 1 session of 15 minutes
Supervised practical classes 9 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Online learning (independent) 9 sessions of 2 hours (14%)
Private study 85 hours (65%)
Total 130 hours
Private study description

Reading subject materials
Homework tasks
Assignment tasks


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
An analysis of context and discursive practices in a short speech event 100% 20 hours

A short naturally-occurring spoken interaction is recorded, transcribed and analysed paying attention to the context and discursive practices evident in the data as covered in the module.

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback on the assignment will be provided on the department's standard feedback sheets, which conform to Faculty regulations. Additional detailed feedback may be provided via a range of methods.


This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UETA-Q310 in English Language and Linguistics
  • Year 2 of UETA-Q311 in English Language and Linguistics (with Intercalated year)