Making the implicit explicit: pragmatics in the classroom
Successful communication in a second language requires knowledge of its socio-pragmatic norms (Eslami-Rasekh, 2005), and explicit instruction can be of value to second language learners (Kasper & Roever, 2004). Various strategies for direct instruction of adult learners in workplace, academic and community settings have involved the use of authentic texts of spoken interaction and there have been compromises between the use of fully authentic data and unreal scripted models (Basturkmen, 2002; Denny, 2008; Malthus, Holmes, & Major, 2005; Riddiford & Joe, 2005; Yates, 2008). However classroom-based research into learners’ responses to socio-pragmatic focused instruction in local norms using naturalistic texts is limited (Rose, 2005). In this paper we will describe a multi-stage action research project in a New Zealand university into teaching socio-pragmatic norms using semi-authentic spoken texts to adult EAL learners in a number of contexts. The project aims to enhance classroom best practice in pragmatics teaching and learning. The current stage, the focus of this presentation, involves an undergraduate classroom, where EAL interpreting students are explicitly taught pragmatic norms using semi-authentic recordings of spontaneous native speaker role-play. The texts cover three face threatening speech acts: a complaint, conflict avoidance, and clarification and repair. The research uses student and teacher reflective journals to identify items and concepts which the students found most helpful. It tracks the transference of students’ understanding of New Zealand English pragmatics into their day-to-day conversations. Preliminary results will be presented.