A non-linear view on interactional competence: speaking Chinese as a heritage language

Authored by: Agnes Weiyun He

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Second Language Acquisition

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946606
eBook ISBN: 9781315670706
Adobe ISBN:


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Interactional competence highlights language as a form of social action. It brings together the symbiotic properties of language as a system of communication and as a situated sociocultural practice. In spite of its paramount importance, however, interactional competence is an area of language that is under-studied in SLA in general and in Chinese SLA in particular. This chapter presents a nonlinear, multi-scalar view on the development of interactional competence in Chinese as a heritage language (CHL). It places in the foreground the interactional space for language learning and the viability for language learning of given interactional moments. After a brief review of existing research on the development of Chinese discourse and interactional competence and relevant recent developments in SLA, it describes the characteristics of CHL and present a multi-scalar view that connects analyses of micro-moments of interaction to explorations of norms, cultures and history and that is couched in an overall composite lifespan approach to researching language and life. It concludes with pedagogical implications and suggestions for future research.

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