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What a difference a word can make: How a single word can change your conversation

This article from TED about the nuances of language could have interesting implications for teaching or learning language from a peace perspective. What would it mean to recognize these cues in conversation and then look for opportunities to transform moments of misunderstanding and conflict? What would awareness of this in teaching bring to a language classroom?

ideas.ted.com

British psychologist Elizabeth Stokoe studies the patterns in talk that most of us don’t even notice. She explains how her research can be used to train people to interact more effectively.

People spend a good deal of time talking to one another, and in general we do it pretty well. We might feel excited, angry, embarrassed, or — if we’re lucky — loved, in the course of our daily conversations. So is there any benefit to thinking about a science of talk? Can we really gain anything from scientific analysis of something we “just do”?

I believe we can, and I’ve spent the last 20 years studying real talk from real people talking to each other in real time. And while the linguist Noam Chomsky once described conversation as a “disorderly phenomenon,” I can tell you that it’s no such thing. Conversation is highly systematic and organized … and it tells…

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About clwoelk

Cheryl Woelk is coordinator of Language for Peace and specializes in language and peace education in multicultural contexts. She holds an MA in Education and a graduate certificate in Peacebuilding from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, USA. Cheryl currently lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her spouse and son.

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Contributing Author

Cheryl Woelk is coordinator of Language for Peace and specializes in language and peace education in multicultural contexts. She holds an MA in Education and a graduate certificate in Peacebuilding from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, USA. Cheryl currently lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her spouse and son.

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