This project investigates second language use and learning in the wild, that is in everyday interactions embedded in diverse sociocultural and material environments outside the classroom. We analyse language learning as an in situ process shaped by the participants’ situated practices and sensitive to the contingencies and material ecologies of different types of social activities. In addition, the project combines methods of interaction research and collaborative design to develop experiential language pedagogy that is based on the learners’ real life needs and places the language user at the centre of the learning process.

The project builds on previous conversation analytical work on second language use and development (CA-SLA). It understands language learning as active, occasioned, and embodied participation in social activities, intrinsically related to the methods of achieving, maintaining and restoring intersubjectivity. In our view, understanding “the grammar of social actions” is a key element in the process of language learning: the learner needs to understand how to use linguistic, embodied and other interactional resources to construct meaningful social actions. The development of interactional competence means that the learner’s methods for accomplishing these actions become more varied and context-sensitive over time.

The data for the project is gathered by videorecording various everyday interactions in the participants’ life-worlds. Some participants are recorded longitudinally: By tracing the same participants’ interactions across settings and over time, the project will renew our understanding of how L2 interactional competence is embodied and emerges within the interactional infrastructure and material ecologies of social activities. Our research data also includes pedagogical experiments in which language learners are guided to participate in out-of-classroom social encounters, to plan their participation and to reflect on their experiences with the help of videorecordings of their own participation. The data is analysed using the methods of multimodal conversation analysis. The analysis thus pays attention to the full range of linguistic, embodied and material resources that the participants draw on, and does not prioritize any of these.

The findings will provide new understanding of how Finnish is used and learned by L2 speakers in and through everyday interactions and contribute to the development of experientially based pedagogical practices that connect the language use environments in L2 users’ life-worlds with classroom practices. While supporting multilingualism and the use of different languages in the Finnish society, we also aim to increase awareness of practices that support the newcomers to our society by offering them opportunities to participate in social activity with the locals outside formal education.