Guest blog: Rebecca Clift on teaching CA in China

The global reach of Conversation Analysis is ever-expanding, as illustrated by the interest generated in CA workshops wherever in the world they take place. Here Rebecca Clift gives us a brief but evocative account of her trip to China with colleagues from the UK and the USA.

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Rebecca Clift, Essex University

There was a happy gathering for the third National Workshop in Conversation Analysis at Shanxi University, China, from 15th-19thJuly 2019. The huge group photo (see the  foot of the page) more or less gets everyone in!

Immersion in CA

Organised by Professor Guodong Yu and Professor Yaxin Wu, it was an intense and exhilarating week of immersion in CA methods for all of us: 64 participants comprising faculty members and graduate students from across China taking lectures, workshops and data sessions with Paul Drew, Kobin Kendrick (University of York), Chase Raymond (University of Colorado, Boulder) and me.

Days were topped and tailed with plenary lectures on the fundamental principles and methods of CA and on some of our own research and research methods (Paul on medical interaction, Kobin on recruitment, Chase on working with collections, and me on embodiment in dissent). The core of our work days consisted of intensive sessions in smaller groups, working on the heart and soul of CA: collections of phenomena. In our groups we worked with a different collection every day, and with a variety of videoed and audio data.

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From L to R: Clift, Raymond, Drew and Kendrick at Paul Drew’s opening plenary

We even brought the whole group together for a memorable plenary data session on Mandarin data, which had been recorded by my PhD student, Zehui Weng!

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Chase Raymond demonstrates quite literally what it means to get down to working with collections…!

So a packed schedule; but an extraordinarily stimulating week, with the classes generating some fascinating observations. It’s clear that there’s huge interest and activity in CA in China, thanks to Guodong and Yaxin, and a whole new generation of CA scholars working on projects of their own (medical interaction, Chinese sign language, recruitment, and emergency calls were just some that I heard about).

Our warmest thanks to everyone who participated – it was a privilege to work with you – and our gratitude to our generous hosts, Guodong, Yaxin and Jody Zhou, who made everything run so smoothly. As we said at the workshop, we hope to see you again, somewhere in the world to talk about your work in CA!

If you’re interested in taking similar short intensive CA courses, don’t forget that Paul and Kobin are involved in teaching such courses with their colleagues at the University of York.

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