Making the implicit explicit: raising pragmatic awareness in trainee interpreters, using semi-authentic spontaneous discourse samples
Following the recent interest in the teaching of pragmatics and the recognition of its importance for both cross-cultural communication and new speakers of an additional language, the authors carried out an action research project to evaluate the effectiveness of a new approach to the teaching of pragmatics. This involved the use of semiauthentic discourse samples of New Zealand English to raise the pragmatic awareness of trainee interpreters in an undergraduate course taught by the first author. The researchers analysed qualitative data from learner blogs, written during instruction as part of the course requirements, for evidence that the learners noticed paralinguistic features used for pragmatic effect in conversations they overheard or took part in outside the classroom. The class teacher also kept a reflective journal recording her observations on learner progress and the usefulness of the materials. The researchers found there was a growth in the number of learners noticing pragmatic features during tuition, suggesting that the semiauthentic samples were effective as learning tools. Use of these samples also facilitated the noticing and discussion of cross-cultural differences and enabled more learner-centered methodology to be used.