Teaching pragmatics to lower level learners
Denny, HG; Healy, J; Macdonald, F
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The teaching and learning of the pragmatics (socio-culturally determined norms) of a second language is vital if migrants and refugees are to live and work in the country of resettlement without miscommunication (Yates, 2008). One way of teaching these is by having learners listen to and work with naturalistic samples of native speaker interaction (Burns & Joyce, 1997). Following a series of action research investigations into the teaching of pragmatic norms using elicited recorded samples of native speaker role-play at intermediate level (Denny, 2008), the authors have turned their attention to learners at lower levels of proficiency. There are indications that it may be difficult to use authentic or semi-authentic samples to teach at this lower level (Denny & Basturkmen, 2011). This project sought to discover if lower-level learners can learn pragmatics by being helped to notice pragmalinguistic features in recorded discourse samples created from native speaker role-play. The research showed that this is possible, but that the teaching methodology needed to be adapted to the needs of this group of learners, using more teacher-facilitated activities and scaffolding, and focussing on the teaching of formulaic expressions.