The use of German aha in the classroom with cochlear-implanted children
Response particles serve a variety of interactional purposes and are as such an essential element of conversations. One of the purposes response particles are used for is to index a change of state, that is to the display that the speaker has undergone a shift from being un-informed to being informed. In this paper I investigate one specific type of response particle, the German change-of-state token ‘aha’ and how it is used by a teacher in the classroom with prelingually deafened and cochlear-implanted children. ‘Aha’ has been documented to display surprise, thus indicating that an utterance has informed the speaker and marking an epistemic shift from that of –K (not knowing) to + K (knowing) of the producer. Based on 60 storytellings of children with cochlear-implants I show that the teacher in fact uses ‘aha’ for two purposes: firstly, as a demonstration of news receipt after unknown information within the story and secondly, as a tool to acknowledge the child’s effort to improve his/her language production. I conclude with a summary of the findings, discussing the implications the teacher’s differentiated use of ‘aha’ may have for the children and their acquisition of interactional competence.
Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 2016