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Learning English Through Social Interaction: The Case of Big Brother 2006, Finland



In line with recent Conversation Analytic work on language learning as situated practice, this article investigates how interactants can create language learning opportunities for themselves and others in and through social interaction. The study shows how the participants of Big Brother Finland, a reality TV show, whose main communication is in Finnish, take up resources provided by English and use them for learning in their interaction. This interaction is characterized by an orientation to both the local context and the television audience, a mixture of activity types and translanguaging. It focuses on one of the participants who explicitly evaluates his own proficiency in English as limited, and demonstrates how English nevertheless constitutes a motivated choice for him that he integrates into his and the other Big Brother housemates' talk and interaction. Analysis shows how the participant actively topicalizes English not only to understand the ongoing talk, but also to serve a range of social and symbolic purposes, for example, for inviting and engaging in participation, building expert–novice participant roles, and creating entertainment and humor. In this fashion the study depicts diverging interactional environments where learning opportunities are created and shows how these are employed by the participants.