Negotiating topic changes:native and non-native English speakers in conversation

Muna K Morris-Adams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a tendency to view conversations involving non‐native speakers (NNSs) as inevitably fraught with problems, including an inability to handle topic management. This article, in contrast, will focus on effective topic changes made by non‐native speakers during informal conversations with native speakers of English. A micro‐analysis of ten conversations revealed several ways of shifting conversational topics; however, the article concentrates on those strategies which the participants used to effect a particular type of topic move, namely ‘marked topic changes’, where there is no connection at all with previous talk. The findings show how these topic changes were jointly negotiated, and that the non‐native speakers’ contributions to initiating new topics were competently managed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-383
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number3
Early online date18 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Morris-Adams, M. (2016). Negotiating topic changes: native and non-native speakers of English in conversation. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Early View, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


  • informal conversations
  • intercultural communication
  • non-native speakers
  • topic change
  • topic management


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