Teacher's squeezed-mouth smile as a social practice in L2 classrooms

Çopur N.

ICOP-L2 (Interactional Competences and Practices in a Second Language) Barcelona 2022, Barcelona, Spain, 8 - 09 September 2022, pp.65-66

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • Page Numbers: pp.65-66
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


This study examines teachers’ use of the squeezed mouth smile (SMS) in response to student utterances produced as humorous in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes in Turkey. More specifically, within question-answer sequences in task-based context, it explores teacher’s responses with SMS indicating that the students’ just prior response might not be appropriate. Although smile and laughter have been widely explored in both institutional and mundane talk (e.g., Glenn, 2003; Kaukomaa et al., 2013; Holt, 2016; Haakana, 2010), SMS is a social practice which appears to be un(der)researched. Data comes from 29-hour video and audio recordings gathered from four different EFL classes. Using Conversation Analysis, four extracts out of a collection of 15 cases will be analysed. Analysis shows that SMS is used to display and manage disaffiliation indicating that the response might not be appropriate. Given the potentially delicate moment of disaffiliating with the students’ turn design (as humorous), SMS appears to enable the teacher to manage it in a mitigated way without showing strong admonishment, thus without discouraging participation. However, teachers’ use of SMS alone sometimes does not appear to prevent students from pursuing somewhat transgressive line that they take. Therefore, it seems necessary for teachers to sometimes follow SMS with explicit comments on the nature of the responses displaying both why the response is treated as inappropriate and the nature of the ‘desired’ or ‘appropriate’ response. As such, teachers can exercise control over the response that they wish to elicit by not leaving space for students to continue with the inappropriate responses. Thus, they meet the pedagogical goals and maintain order in the classroom without discouraging participation. Overall, this study unearths the dynamic, complex, and delicate work that SMS can perform in EFL classes and talk-in-interaction more generally.