The papers in this special issue of Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language) were originally presented at the International conference "Interactional Competences in Institutional Practices", which took place at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in November 2014. The conference has its origins in the Interactional Competences in Institutional Practices: Young people between school and the workplace project (2012-2015, FNS grant no. CRSII1_136291/1) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The event was intended to gather researchers interested in interactional competences within institutional contexts (professional interactions; teaching-learning interactions in school and/or in the workplace; professional-non professional interactions). Responsive to context-specific motivations while transcending any specific interaction, interactional competences are not considered as abstract abilities but as a set of resources within rich interactional environments that participants mobilize, assess and interpret according to shared and valid principles. The wide-ranging discussions between the conference contributors and the audience evinced a lively interest in the theme of interactional competences.

This special issue offers a collection of five conference papers which, by looking at the diverse range of contexts, give a glimpse of how research on interactional practices come within the scope of the study of interactional competences. Authors examine socio-pragmatic aspects of situated human interactions within institutional contexts. Through the detailed descriptions of a variety of set of practices, they show how individuals locally construct, mobilize and reconfigure their interactional competences for sharing information, communicating, complaining, negotiating, solving problems, bringing off specific tasks, transmitting knowledge and learning.

The paper by Janet Holmes discusses how newcomers in New Zealand are socialized into the professional culture and communities of practices through situated interactions at work. By exploring a variety of ethnographic data such as interviews and recorded interactions, her research highlights the tacit ways particular macro-level sociocultural norms shape face-to-face interactions.

The two following papers deal with health care settings and raise issues of how specific interactional environments are taken as a situated basis for interpreting the professional's or the patient's communicative orientations and what is expected as an adequate next action. Isabel Colon de Carvajal and Sandra Teston-Bonnard analyze speech therapist-patient video-recorded interactions and focus on how aphasic patients accomplish gesture reeducation work. In her paper on nurse-doctor telephone interactions, Anca Sterie looks into the nurse's differentiated interactional practices involved in requesting the doctor's interventions.

The last two papers concentrate on classroom interactions and investigate how interactants manifest assessments (teacher/pupil assessment, peer-assessment) and co-construct composite sequences to deal with such manifested assessments moment-by-moment as the interaction unfolds. Myrte Gosen sheds light on the collaborative production of narratives of personal events accomplished together by children and teacher in nursery classrooms, while in her study Carmen Konzett examines fine-grained descriptions of peer-assessments in a grammar boardgame in a foreign language classroom.

This special issue offers a moment of reflection on the question of competences and the attempts to highlight them from an interactional perspective.

We are deeply grateful to the editorial board and to the external reviewers of this special issue. We would like to record our special thanks to Laurent Filliettaz (University of Geneva), Anna-Claudia Ticca (University of Lyon) and Olcay Sert (Hacettepe University) for their helpful suggestions and comments.

Guest Editors

Vassiliki Markaki
University of Lyon

Cécile Petitjean
University of Neuchâtel