An introductory tutorial in Conversation Analysis   

What is CA?

This tutorial

Audio & video files

Why record?

What to transcribe?

    transcript 1

    transcript 2

    transcript 3

    pros & cons

    transcript 4


What is analysis?

    analysis 1

    analysis 2



Anonymising data

Main menu

Use this tutorial to get a taste of what it might be like to transcribe a piece of interaction and to analyse two of its brief moments.

No previous knowledge of CA is assumed; I'm aiming at the student of social interaction who has heard a little about CA and would like to see more.

How does one use these pages?

Use the site to play three audio (and, if your connection allows you, video) clips of a short stretch of ordinary interaction. Then consult  two sets of pages which use the clips as a basis for exercises in two central aspects of CA: transcription and analysis.

  • The audio clips (or the full videos they are taken from) can be played at any time via the link in the side bar. Your computer will need to be equipped with an appropriate programme, of course, and it will help if you have fast access to the internet. 

  • The link labelled 'transcription' takes you to pages which work through various ways you could write down what is happening in the clips. As we shall see, the possibilities are endless, but some principles help to concentrate the choices.

  • The link called 'analysis' takes you to a set of pages that works through two moments of the interaction to try and give a sense of what one can say about it using CA.

  • A note on downloading: If you're accessing these pages at a University site, you should be all right. Likewise if you have a broadband connection at home. Otherwise the audio clips will take some time to download, and the video clips will take ages, or not come through at all. If so you'll miss a bit of the debate about what to transcribe. But even with just the audio most of this tutorial should make sense.

What will I have learnt?

You will have thought about what it means to take a close record of a piece of interaction, and to have tried to analyse it carefully, applying what conversation analysis has already found. I very much hope that will have given you a taste to go further, learn more, and add your own contribution to CA.

Other sources (see also the References page)

If interested, and would like to follow up what you see here in a textbook, you might look into these very useful sources:

  • ten Have, Paul (1999) Doing Conversation Analysis. (Sage Publications)

  • Hutchby, Ian and Wooffitt, Robin (1998) Conversation Analysis. (Polity Press)

  • Nofsinger, Robert E. (1991), Everyday Conversation. (Sage Publications)

  • Wooffitt, R. (2005), Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis. (Sage Publications)

and, for a compelling view of what CA was like at its moment of invention,

  • Sacks, H (1992) Lectures on Conversation. (Blackwell) [posthumous records of lectures given in the sixties and seventies]

These, and all the other sources I've cited on this site, are gathered together on the References page.

And to see what CA material there is on the Web, you might like to see the page of links.

To continue with the tutorial

You can dip in and out of the tutorial at any point, but a good way of carrying on at this point is to go to the 'transcription' pages.