Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Can pragmatic competence be taught???

According to Kasper's article CAN PRAGMATIC COMPETENCE BE TAUGHT?, it is proposed that pragmatics can't be taught in classroom (I guess he means 'not to directly teach on the board'). She suggested that pragmatic competence, whether pramalinguistic or sociopragmaic, needs to be acquired through noticing the input, understaninding and using the pragmatic knowledge.

In Kasper and Roever's paper, they suggested the pragmatic knowledge is teachable; instruction has certain advantages to learners' pragmatic acquisition.

According to the interlanguage hypothesis, direct instruction on linguistic form is not beneficial to learners' acquisition of the target language. I myself suggested explicit instruction on form is still important . I would be very happy to agree on the idea that instruction can be beneficial to the interlanguage of pragmatics.

So... how can EFL teachers help learners acquire the target pragmatic? For EFL learners, there is usually insufficient access to the target language. Providing authentic input that enables learners to learn pragmatic knowledge becomes a challenge for language teachers. I would like to suggest that by creating authentic-like interaction between studnets or providing audio or video tape with authentic interaction examples to learners, teachers can engage learners into the learning of pragmatics.

To involve in interactions, notice and understand the pragmatic difference between their native culture and the target culture is crucial for learners to acquire the knowledge (Kasper, 1997). Discussions about the target pragmatics in the classroom can help learners understand the rules. Of course, learners' language proficiencies are still important; there are several studies showed that there is a correlation between learners' language proficiency and the develpment of pragmatics.

So... I was just thinking... can writing interaction be also influential to the learning of pragmatic knowledge???

I probably need to do more research on it...


Blogger EFL Geek said...

I am by no means a pragmatic specialist (but I did email your post to a friend)but I do think that writing interaction can influence pragmatic knowledge. To me this conclusion is rather self-explanatory in that the pragmatic competence that would be gaind would be related to written discourse rather then verbal.

I feel that verbal pragmatic competence requires repeated exposure to authentic communication. Recorded conversation (re: TV, Movies, etc) may be okay, but to me is superficial and contrived. I do not feel that real competence can be gained without repeated exposure to "real" "authentic" speech in the real authentic world.

The above opinion is mostly based on intuition and I look forward to reading what other more informed people will have to say on this.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Y.H.Stella Chen said...

yes! Blinger. I do agree with your view that single exposure can't let pragmatic learning happen. Last month I came across an article related to online chat and interaction; the conclusion of that article is: although there are less pragmatic cues like :) or :P, interaction can still be achieved. However, there seems to be less articles talking about writing interaction and pragmatic acquisition. Probably you can do a thesis about it? :P

but ..yeah..logically, your intuition reasonable because

interaction is necessary for pragmatic acquisition!
we just need to find out whether anykind of interaction can make pragmatic acquisition happen :)

7:00 AM  
Blogger paul shih said...

Hi, I just registered and have read part of your message. I am interested in teaching children English. As given, "Can pragmatic competence be taught???" is a very interesting subject. To me, the answer is yes, but it would be hard for me to reach the impossible mission. I don't think I am capable of teaching children pragmatic competence. I hope my teaching now as a substitute elementary teacher can catch their mind and more attention toward English. Many teachers here have switched their instruction from simple dialogues to writing, because the learning enviroment can't offer what children need it to interact. Students have too much homework in many things already, yet they can add some little of writing on top of them. Hee! But I don't know if their pragmatic competence will improve. It is deserved to wait and see.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Y.H.Stella Chen said...

hi Paul.
Well, yeah...I think I agree with you. According to my professor, pragmatics can be taught to a certain extent. We did talk about how pramatics can be taught in EFL classrooms where learners usually do not have sufficient interaction. It probably can be taught but...just to a certain extend. To expose learners in the target culture probably will be a better idea; however, just like what you've suggested, in EFL classrooms it is a challege for teachers.
May I ask where you come from?? I used to teach children English in Taiwan :)

11:10 PM  
Blogger paul shih said...

I live in Taiwan also.^^ I have studied in Teacher program for a year, and practice in elementary school now. I don't know much about linguistic. This subject is funny because if pragmatic competence can't be taught, then what teacher is for?

2:04 AM  
Blogger Y.H.Stella Chen said...

That's a good question!! hmm..I guess for grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation, teachers do play an important role as an instructor. As for pragmatics or other culture knowledge, probably being exposed to a authentic environment is much more importnat.

I asked the same question though when I learned about they interlanguage hypothesis, which proposed that L2 learning, just like L1 learning, need not to be taught. Giving enough interaction and input is all students need. That striked me a lot :)

3:07 AM  

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