How do language instructors fulfill institutional mandates while also nurturing students’ interest? What becomes of this process when it unfolds not in one class meeting but in a series of pedagogical events? Classroom research has suggested the importance of integrating authentic, conversational, and rapport-building talk with instructional practices. What remain unknown but central to classroom practices is the temporal, institutional, and psychological underpinnings this integration entails. This ethnographic study explores the dialectical unfolding of paradigmatic and narrative thinking (Bruner 1986) in a Chinese course enrolling U.S. domestic students and Korean international students. Paradigmatic thought is concerned with truth, scientific logic and categorization, which are essential for explaining language features. Narrative thought ‘strives to put its timeless miracles into the particulars of experience, and to locate that experience in time and place’ (Bruner 1986, 13). Drawing on classroom recordings, participant interviews, and instructional artifacts, the study shows that ordinary materials designated by the institution to underscore paradigmatic thinking were rendered extraordinary when the instructor and students collaboratively transformed them with interpersonally and interculturally meaningful stories across a chain of pedagogical encounters.


Sheng-Hsun Lee is a Lecturer in Chinese in the School of Languages and Cultures, the University of Queensland. His research interests lie in how language learning and teaching unfold in two primary settings: language classrooms and study abroad. Drawing upon Vygotskian sociocultural theory, he has explored topics on relational identities, table etiquette, narrative remembering and ideologies of linguistic and cultural authenticity. His research is published in Applied Linguistics Review, Foreign Language Annals, and The Modern Language Journal


Abel Smith Lecture Theatre (#23)