Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-tn8tq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-24T08:03:45.829Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The visual signature of non-understanding: A systematic replication of McDonough, Trofimovich, Lu, and Abashidze (2019)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2021

Kim McDonough*
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Rachael Lindberg
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Pavel Trofimovich
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Oguzhan Tekin
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:


This replication study seeks to extend the generalizability of an exploratory study (McDonough et al., 2019) that identified holds (i.e., temporary cessation of dynamic movement by the listener) as a reliable visual cue of non-understanding. Conversations between second language (L2) English speakers in the Corpus of English as a Lingua Franca Interaction (CELFI; McDonough & Trofimovich, 2019) with non-understanding episodes (e.g., pardon?, what?, sorry?) were sampled and compared with understanding episodes (i.e., follow-up questions). External raters (N = 90) assessed the listener's comprehension under three rating conditions: +face/+voice, −face/+voice, and +face/−voice. The association between non-understanding and holds in McDonough et al. (2019) was confirmed. Although raters distinguished reliably between understanding and non-understanding episodes, they were not sensitive to facial expressions when judging listener comprehension. The initial and replication findings suggest that holds remain a promising visual signature of non-understanding that can be explored in future theoretically- and pedagogically-oriented contexts.

Replication Research
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Aoki, H. (2011). Some functions of speaker head nods. In Goodwin, C., LeBaron, C., & Streeck, J. (Eds.), Embodied interaction: Language and body in the material world (pp. 93105). Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Bavelas, J., Coates, L., & Johnson, T. (2002). Listener responses as collaborative process: The role of gaze. Journal of Communication, 52(3), 566580. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02562.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bremer, K. (1996). Causes of understanding problems. In Bremer, K., Roberts, C., Vasseur, M., Simonot, M., & Broeder, P. (Eds.), Achieving understanding: Discourse in intercultural encounters (pp. 3764). Longman.Google Scholar
Canagarajah, S. (2013). Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carpenter, H., Jeon, K. S., MacGregor, D., & Mackey, A. (2006). Learners’ interpretation of recasts. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28(2), 209236. doi:10.1017/S0272263106060104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cogo, A., & Pitzl, M.-L. (2016). Pre-empting and signalling non-understanding in ELF. ELT Journal, 70(3), 339345. doi:10.1093/elt/ccw015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davies, M. (2006). Paralinguistic focus on form. TESOL Quarterly, 40(4), 841855. doi:10.2307/40264316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (2015). Pronunciation fundamentals: Evidence-based perspectives for L2 teaching and research. John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Faraco, M., & Kida, T. (2008). Gesture and the negotiation of meaning in a second language classroom. In McCafferty, S. G. & Stam, G. (Eds.), Gesture: Second language acquisition and classroom research (pp. 280297). Routledge.Google Scholar
Firth, A. (1996). The discursive accomplishments of normality: On ‘lingua franca’ English and conversation analysis. Journal of Pragmatics, 26(2), 237259. doi:10.1016/0378-2166(96)00014-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Floyd, S., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., & Francisco, T. (2016). Timing of visual bodily behavior in repair sequences: Evidence from three languages. Discourse Processes, 53(3), 175204. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2014.992680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldberg, A. E., Casenhiser, D., & White, T. R. (2007). Constructions as categories of language. New Ideas in Psychology, 25(2), 7086. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2007.02.004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gómez, R. (2002). Variability and detection of invariant structure. Psychological Science, 13(5), 431436. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00476CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kamiya, N. (2018). The effect of learner age on the interpretation of the nonverbal behaviors of teachers and other students in identifying questions in the L2 classroom. Language Teaching Research, 22(1), 4764. doi:10.1177/1362168816658303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Knapp, M. L., Hall, J. A., & Horgan, T. G. (2013). Nonverbal communication in human interaction. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
Marsden, E., Morgan-Short, K., Thompson, S. & Abugaber, D. (2018). Replication in second language research: Narrative and systematic reviews and recommendations for the field. Language Learning, 68(2), 321391. doi:10.1111/lang.12286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matsumoto, Y. (2018). Functions of laughter in English-as-a-lingua-franca classroom interactions: A multimodal ensemble of verbal and nonverbal interactional resources at miscommunication moments. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, 7(2), 229260. doi:10.1515/jelf-2018-0013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matthews, D., & Bannard, C. (2010). Children's production of unfamiliar word sequences is predicted by positional variability and latent classes in a large sample of child-directed speech. Cognitive Science, 34(3), 465488. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01091.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mauranen, A. (2006). Signalling misunderstanding in English as a lingua franca communication. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 177, 123150. doi:10.1515/IJSL.2006.008Google Scholar
McDonough, K., & Nekrasova-Becker, T. (2014). Comparing the effect of skewed and balanced input on English as a foreign language learners’ comprehension of the double-object dative construction. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(2), 419442. doi:10.1017/S0142716412000446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McDonough, K., & Trofimovich, P. (2019). Corpus of English as a Lingua Franca Interaction (CELFI). Montreal, Canada: Concordia University.Google Scholar
McDonough, K., Trofimovich, P., Dao, P., & Abashidze, D. (2018). Eye gaze and L2 speakers’ responses to recasts: A systematic replication study of McDonough, Crowther, Kielstra and Trofimovich (2015). Language Teaching, 53(1), 8195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McDonough, K., Trofimovich, P., Lu, L., & Abashidze, D. (2019). The occurrence and perception of listener visual cues during nonunderstanding episodes. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41(5), 11511165. doi:10.1017/S0272263119000238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McDonough, K., Trofimovich, P., Lu, L., & Abashidze, D. (2020). Visual cues during interaction: Are recasts different from noncorrective repetition? Second Language Research, 36(3), 359370. doi:10.1177/0267658320914962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mohan, B., & Helmer, S. (1988). Context and second language development: Preschoolers’ comprehension of gestures. Applied Linguistics, 9(3), 275292. doi:10.1093/applin/9.3.275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pietikäinen, K. (2018). Misunderstandings and ensuring understanding in private ELF talk. Applied Linguistics, 39(2), 188212. doi:10.1093/applin/amw005Google Scholar
Pitzl, M.-L. (2010). English as a Lingua Franca in international business: Resolving miscommunication and reaching shared understanding. VDM-Verlag Müller.Google Scholar
Plonsky, L., & Derrick, D. (2016). A meta-analysis of reliability coefficients in second language research. Modern Language Journal, 100(2), 538553. doi:10.1111/modl.12335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Porte, G., & McManus, K. (2018). Doing replication research in applied linguistics. Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seo, M. S., & Koshik, I. (2010). A conversation analytic study of gestures that engender repair in ESL conversational tutoring. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(8), 22192239. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2010.01.021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wang, W., & Loewen, S. (2016). Nonverbal behavior and corrective feedback in nine ESL university-level classrooms. Language Teaching Research, 20(4), 459478. doi:10.1177/1362168815577239CrossRefGoogle Scholar