4 What is Pragmatics? Disciplinary definition: “The study of language from the point of view of users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication” (Crystal, 1997, p. 301).More simply put: appropriate ways of speaking and interacting within a given sociocultural context.
5 Some Domains of Pragmatics Speech actsImplicatureIndirectnessPolitenessTopic appropriatenessConversational management
6 Pragmatics as Part of Communicative Competence Bachman, 1990
7 Why is Learning Pragmatics Important? Essential to the attainment of communicative competence“Speech communities differ in their assessment of speakers’ and hearers’ social distance and social power, their rights and obligations, and the degree of imposition involved in particular communicative acts” (Kasper & Rose, 2001, p. 2)Saving ‘face’: pragmatic errors are commonly perceived not as deficiencies in L2 knowledge, but rather as personal defects in character or personalityPragmatic knowledge gives learners a sense of ownership of the language and membership within the speech communityOne of the most interesting aspects of language learning!
8 Can Pragmatic Competence be Taught? No…but yes!According to Kasper (1997), “The simple answer to the question as formulated is “no”. Competence is a type of knowledge that learners possess, develop, acquire, use or lose. The challenge for foreign or second language teachers is whether we can arrange learning opportunities in such a way that they benefit the development of pragmatic competence in [the] L2”
9 Therefore…Yes – we can ‘arrange opportunities’ for learners to develop their pragmatic knowledgeThese opportunities include:Direct instruction of select pragmatic featuresAwareness-raising activitiesStrategies for autonomous learning
10 Film and Television as Pedagogic Resources Film and television provide authentic samples of language in useFamiliarity with film and television can help give students a sense of membership within the target language communityFilm and television allow students to see and hear language in use, thus offering rich contextualized inputFilm and television are often relevant to students’ personal interestsUsing humorous clips (in particular) can help create a positive, relaxed classroom atmospherePotential sources of materials are vast
11 What Types/Genres of Film and Television Should Be Used? Different genres offer different opportunities for learningSitcoms/comedies – particularly useful (cf. Washburn, 2001)Soap operas/dramasTalk shows
12 Getting Started Consider your learners Make a list of films and/or television series that you are familiar withThink of and write down the names of ‘quirky’ characters from shows or movies – chances are they regularly violate pragmatic norms!Look for short clips from the TV shows or films you listed on Youtube (or from the full episodes or films, if you have access) and watch several of them.
13 Getting Started (continued) Try to identify any aspects of pragmatics that you observeWhile viewing, try to identify what a language learner would need to know in order to understand the pragmatic features contained in the clipsOnce you’ve determined that a clip is appropriate for your students and contains useful pragmatic information, you can start to think of activities that incorporate the clips.
14 Creating Activities: Some Example Types ‘Guided discovery’ tasks (Rylander, 2005)Play clips with the sound turned off and have students make predictions about speaker attitudes based on nonverbal communicationPlay multiple clips with transcripts and have Ss identify common featuresExploit the ‘laugh track’ on sitcoms: ask questions like ‘what made the scene funny?’ ‘What did the character do wrong?’ ‘What should he have said instead?’ (Raising metapragmatic awareness)Identify speaker roles and what their [perceived] relationship isRole-playsAmateur ethnographersFor speech acts, it behooves teachers to focus on those speech acts that are the most difficult, delicate, and non-formulaic (Wolfson, 1989).
16 Example Activity 1: Implicature Friends (Chandler and Phoebe)*Note that searching for specific speech acts can be very difficult. It’s better to make note of them as they come up, keep track of where you can find them again, and then use them in class at the appropriate time*NOTE THE CONTEXT OF THIS CLIP (as Chandler’s indirect directive is rather rude due to his ongoing troubles with Phoebe in this episode)
17 Example Activity 2: Giving Advice Billy Madison (Billy gets advice)Clip 1Clip 2 [start at 02:42]Clip 3 [stop at 00:09]
18 Example Activity 3: Analyzing Power, Social Distance, and Degree of Threat Seinfeld (Elaine orders Chinese food)
19 Caveats and Limitations General/theoretical notion of ‘appropriateness’ is relative, not absolute (e.g., World Englishes)Appropriateness of the clip (topic, language used, other potentially offensive content)Curricular constraintsResourcesLack of familiarity with American television and films and/or low confidence of one’s own pragmatic competence (especially NNSs)Copyright Laws (see AIME website)
20 Concluding: Creativity in Materials Development Teachers should always be on the lookout for new ways of teaching, new activity types, and effective ways of engaging their studentsWith activities involving film, television, and pragmatics, one must learn to be a critical consumer of popular media and be a ‘scavenger’ for relevant materialsWe must put ourselves in our learners’ shoes and think about the ‘mysteries’ that abound in their day to day interactions with people and the target language
22 ReferencesBachman, L. F. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical aspects of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1–47.Crystal, D. (Ed.). (1997). The Cambridge encyclopedia of language (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Kasper, G. (1997). Can pragmatics be taught? Plenary speech presented at the AnnualTESOL Convention (March, the 32nd conference, international), Orlando, Florida.Kasper, G., & Rose, K. (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. In Rose, K., & Kasper, G. (Eds.), Pragmatics in language teaching (pp. 1-9). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Rose, K., & Kasper, G. (2001). Pragmatics in language teaching. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Rylander, J. (2005). Teaching Pragmatics via Video. In K. Bradford-Watts, C. Ikeguchi, & M. Swanson (Eds.) JALT2004 Conference Proceedings. Tokyo: JALT.Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4,Washburn, G. (2001). Using situation comedies for pragmatic language teaching and learning. TESOL Journal, 10(4), 21‐26.Wolfson, N. (1989). Perspectives: Sociolinguistics and TESOL. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.Offer to send references to whoever wants them