Resonance in Second Language Testing: Intercultural imitation between examiner and learner

30 May 2024
Room E1

Resonance in Second Language Testing: Intercultural imitation between examiner and learner

What is the intercultural role of imitation in second language (L2) testing? Do learners imitate their examiners’ language use? What about the other way around? This paper provides a corpus-based account of the role of resonance between language testers and L2 learners in dialogic tasks. Resonance (DuBois, 2014; Author, 2023) is a form of imitation that involves verbal, vocal, and kinetic analogies across turns during a dialogic interaction. We retrieved our multimodal data from the Spoken Dialogues of the International Corpus Network of Asian Learners of English (ICNALE; Ishikawa, 2023) containing video-recorded interviews to Asian L2 speakers of English (A2-B2 CEFR proficiency) across different tasks and topics. We fitted a mixed-effects linear regression of the magnitude of resonance between testers and learners correlating with speech acts, learners’ first language, L2 proficiency, gender, and other socio-demographic variables, as well as task type and topic. We found that imitation plays different roles in language testing. First, learners’ imitation is a key component of L2 pragmatic competence and proficiency: the more proficient the learners, the higher the resonance with their interlocutors. Second, learners and examiners resonate with each other to build rapport (Spenser-Oatey, 2005), create the conditions for an emergent common ground (Kecskes, 2014:154), co-construct meaning interculturally, and foster interactional progressivity. Examiners also resonate to accommodate test-takers, align their language with learners’ L2 proficiency, and reduce power imbalance. We discuss implications hinging on the intercultural pragmatics of language teaching and language testing, with practical applications for examiners’ training and language learning materials development.



Author (2023).

DuBois, J. (2014). Towards a dialogic syntax. Cognitive linguistics25(3), 359-410.

Ishikawa, S. (2023). The ICNALE Guide: An Introduction to a Learner Corpus Study on Asian Learners’ L2 English. Routledge.

Kecskes, I. (2014). Intercultural pragmatics. Oxford University Press.

Spencer-Oatey, H. (2005). Rapport management theory and culture. Intercultural Pragmatics2(3), 335-346.