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The Instruction of Email Pragmatics to Second Language Learners Shawn Ford Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

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Presentation on theme: "The Instruction of Email Pragmatics to Second Language Learners Shawn Ford Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai‘i at Manoa."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Instruction of Pragmatics to Second Language Learners Shawn Ford Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

2 Presentation Outline I.Initial motivation for study A.Student messages B.Action research project C.Pilot study II.Current research project A.Theoretical framework B.Methodology C.Results III.Future research IV.Conclusion/ questions

3 Sample Student Message From Sent Sunday, September 1, :50 am To Subject Hello Professor~ I don't think, I can turn the reports on next monday. I liked to delay the time to turn the paper. Can you do it for me? I have some reasons and excuses for it. I will talk to you about it in class. so, please delay the due date for me. Plz also reply me for its answer on . Thank you.

4 Action Research Project 1. Find existing teaching materials for electronic communication; 2. Find any existing guidelines or rules for electronic communication; 3. Adopt, adapt, or develop a lesson for electronic communication; 4. Implement the lesson; 5. See if there is any change in patterns of usage.

5 Action Research Project Results Advanced-level ESL students need instruction in guidelines for writing formal messages; Teaching materials on this topic are not readily available; There is an abundance of information about pragmatics (netiquette); pragmatics is teachable; Students showed gains in proper uses of formal pragmatics from pre- to immediate post-test, which was maintained in the delayed post-test.

6 Pilot Study 8 non-native English-speakers (NNSs) students of ELI 100- undergraduate, advanced writing class researcher’s own students 5 native English-speakers (NSs) graduate students of the Second Language Studies Department at UH Manoa Study conducted in UH Manoa classrooms and computer labs, and via

7 Research Questions and Hypotheses 1. What are the differences between NNSs and NSs of English in the pragmatic features of requests concerning academic topics sent to unfamiliar professors? 2. Do the differences found in the first research question effect the acceptability of the requests? 3. What are the effects of instruction in the usage of appropriate pragmatic features when writing requests?

8 Results of Pilot Study NS messages contain more acceptable formal features and more acceptable content features of pragmatics. NS messages appear more acceptable than those of NNSs. Data analysis shows gains in the use of acceptable formal features of pragmatic requests from pre- to post-tests after treatment. Delayed post-test shows gains maintained but not at the level of the immediate post-test. Data analysis shows gains in the use of acceptable content features of pragmatic requests from pre- to post-tests after treatment. However, delayed post-test shows that gains were maintained only slightly above the level of the pre-test.

9 Research Study Theoretical Framework Pragmatic universals Pragmatic development and ESL Instruction of pragmatics and ESL Requests and ESL pragmatics Instruction of pragmatics Measuring pragmatic development

10 Pragmatic Universals Key Studies: Brown & Levinson (1978) varying degrees and realizations of politeness are fundamental to all languages Hill, Ide, Ikuta, Kawasaki, and Ogino (1986) - pragmatic systems operate on two basic principles- discernment and volition discernment: "...a recognition of certain fundamental characteristics of addressee and situation" (p. 361) volition: the speaker's true intentions in a given communicative event - discernment and volition operate at different levels across cultures

11 Pragmatic Development and ESL Key Studies: Kasper, G., & Blum-Kulka, S. (1993) forwarded research agenda to study interlanguage pragmatics Schmidt, R. (1993); Kasper, G. & Schmidt, R. (1996) studies of meta-awareness and development of inter- language pragmatics Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Hartford, B.S. (1993) investigated pragmatic change longitudinally in the academic environment

12 Pragmatics should be taught because it does not appear to be easily transferrable from L1 to L2; Pragmatics should be taught because this will raise awareness of appropriate language use, which in turn has been shown to aid in language development; Pragmatics can be taught, as is evidenced by a number of early studies of classroom language learning and instruction.

13 Instruction of Pragmatics and ESL Key Studies: LoCastro, V. (1994) lack of English pragmatics instruction in textbooks House, J. (1996); Kasper, G., & Rose, K. (2001) examined developing awareness of pragmatics through explicit classroom instruction Pragmatic development in L2 learners can be enhanced through explicit awareness-raising techniques.

14 Requests and ESL Key Studies: Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G., (Eds.). (1989) edited volume devoted to studying the pragmatics of the request and apology speech acts Schmidt, T.Y. (1994) - compared actual request data to request lessons found in popular ESL textbooks - results showed that textbooks were deficient in the range of real-world request types - results also showed that textbooks were deficient in the explanations of the request types given

15 Kitao (1990); Kim (1995); Kasange (1998); Kim (2000) - each study investigated the performance of English requests by a different cultural group - each study found evidence of negative transfer of L1 pragmatics - each study concluded with the need for explicit instruction in making English requests Requests are one of the most frequently occurring speech acts across languages; There are major cross-cultural differences in realizations of constructing and interpreting requests; Forming pragmatically appropriate requests in an L2 is problematic.

16 Pragmatics Key Studies: Shea (1994) principles of netiquette: basic rules for behaving and interacting through electronic communication Gaines (1999) discovered a new written genre with unique textual features in academic data: "...a pseudo-conversational form of communication, conducted in extended time and with an absent interlocutor" (81) Inglis (1998) investigated cross-cultural miscommunications that arise in office environments due to culturally different perceptions of appropriateness in and Internet communication

17 Studies Most Relevant to the Present Study: Hartford & Bardovi-Harlig (1996); Weasenforth & Beisenbach-Lucas (2000); Chen (2001) - each study analyzed requests sent by university students to their professors - each study found that the requests of NNSs contained features that may negatively effect the acceptability of the messages and the fulfillment of the requests

18 Instruction of Pragmatics Key Studies: ???????????????????????????????????? None to my knowledge. At least not yet...

19 Measuring Pragmatic Development Key Studies: Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G., (Eds.). (1989) Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP) elaborate coding scheme for analyzing requests Norris (2001) task-based language assessment: "...performance of communication tasks that have some relationship to non-test or ‘real-world’ activities, and these elicited task performances are assessed according to explicit criteria" (164). Task-based performance assessment measured with a coding scheme combining CCSARP guidelines and netiquette rules proposed by Shea (1994).

20 Subjects & Location 29 native English-speakers (NSs) graduate students of the SLS Department 15 non-native English-speakers (NNSs) students of ELI 100- undergraduate, advanced writing class researcher’s own students Study conducted in UH Manoa classrooms and computer labs, and via

21 Research Questions and Hypotheses 1. What are the differences between NSs and NNSs of English in the pragmatic features of requests concerning academic topics sent to unfamiliar professors? 2. What are the effects of instruction in the usage of appropriate pragmatic features when writing requests? I eliminated the second question from the pilot study concerned with discovering the pragmatic features that effect the acceptability of the messages.

22 Tests and Treatment NNS Data: Pre-test: request assignment as homework Treatment: Netiquette lesson delivered via Internet Immediate Post-test: request assignment as homework Delayed post-test: request assignment as homework Pre-test, treatment, and post-test at beginning of semester; follow-up test at the end of the semester NS Data: The NS data for the study was elicited via using the same prompt given to the NNSs.

23 Data Elicitation I used the following prompt to elicit request data from both NNSs and NSs: For this short homework assignment, I want you to write a hypothetical message to a professor. Here’s the situation: Information about the setting and the Professor-  You’re taking a 200-level History course from a professor who you don’t know at all.  His name is Dr. Peterson, he is in his mid-40s, he is an average-sized Caucasian man, and he has taught in the History Department at UH for many years.  Other than this information, you don’t know anything else about Dr. Peterson.

24 Information about your message-  It’s within the first two weeks of the beginning of the semester.  Your first major writing assignment is due next week, which is a 3-page book report.  Everyone in the class had to read the same book and do the same assignment.  You need more time to finish your book report, so you must send Dr. Peterson an message to request an extension.  This is the first time that you have ever sent Dr. Peterson an message. Write your message to Dr. Peterson requesting an extension to turn in your book report. When finished writing it, send it directly to me by .

25 Treatment

26 Data Coding Once all NS and NNS data was received, I coded the data using a form developed specifically for this purpose. To develop the form, I drew from Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & Kasper, G., (Eds.) (1989) for the content pragmatic features of the messages Shea, V. (1994) for the formal pragmatic features of the messages

27

28 Representative Sample: NS Request From Native Speaker Sent Sunday, March 9, :25 pm To Subject History Article Critique Dear Dr. Peterson, I am currently working on the article critique for our history class and have encountered some trouble. As a result, I do not believe that I will be able to complete my paper by the due date. I was wondering if I could have a one week extension to complete the assignment. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause. Sincerely, Native Speaker

29 Formal Features From Native Speaker Sent Sunday, March 9, :25 pm To Subject History Article Critique Dear Dr. Peterson, I am currently working on the article critique for our history class and have encountered some trouble. As a result, I do not believe that I will be able to complete my paper by the due date. I was wondering if I could have a one week extension to complete the assignment. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause. Sincerely, Native Speaker

30 Request Head Act From Native Speaker Sent Sunday, March 9, :25 pm To Subject History Article Critique Dear Dr. Peterson, I am currently working on the article critique for our history class and have encountered some trouble. As a result, I do not believe that I will be able to complete my paper by the due date. I was wondering if I could have a one week extension to complete the assignment. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause. Sincerely, Native Speaker

31 Mitigating Supportive Moves From Native Speaker Sent Sunday, March 9, :25 pm To Subject History Article Critique Dear Dr. Peterson, I am currently working on the article critique for our history class and have encountered some trouble. As a result, I do not believe that I will be able to complete my paper by the due date. I was wondering if I could have a one week extension to complete the assignment. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause. Sincerely, Native Speaker

32 Representative Sample: NNS Request From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

33 Formal Features From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

34 Request Head Act From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

35 Mitigating Supportive Moves From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

36 Politeness Markers From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

37 Upgraders From Nonnas Peaker Sent Sunday, January 19, :56 pm To Subject Emergency!! Dr. Peterson! Hello, Dr. Peterson, I am a student from your History 251 class. My name is Nonnas Peaker. I know we have a writing assignment due next week, I am kinda run out of the time because I got work and sports. Could you give me some extension period, therefore I can finish the assignment well. I think two more days are good enough for me. Please reply my ASAP, and thank you for taking your time.

38 Data Analysis To summarize findings from the NS data (N=29): 1. NS messages score slightly above average acceptance for perlocutionary effect (3.14) and politeness (3.07); 2. NS messages contain on average 7.6 of the 9 required formal netiquette features with above average acceptability (2.3); 3. NS messages contain on average 9 pragmatic features, the majority of them being supporters and alerters; 4. Almost all NS messages contain a grounder, title, and surname, and use the preparatory strategy to form requests; 5. 3 NS messages contain upgraders (Hi!, Aloha!, Thank you!); 6. NS messages score above acceptable for spelling (2.9) and grammar (2.5); 7. NS messages average 1 request per message; and 8. NS messages average 92 wpm in length.

39 To summarize findings from the NNS pre-test data (N=15): 1. NNS messages score less than average acceptance for perlocutionary effect (2.20) and above average for politeness (3.33), although there is extreme variability; 2. NNS messages contain on average 6.6 of the 9 required formal netiquette features with below average acceptability (1.8); 3. NNS messages contain on average 8 acceptable pragmatic features; however, no trends can be found in their use; 4. NNS data set contains 12 upgraders (interjections, time intensifiers, request repetitions); 5. NNS messages score acceptable for spelling (2.0) and below acceptable for grammar (1.5); 6. NNS messages average 2 request per message; and 7. NNS messages average 97 wpm in length.

40 Results of Research Study Research Question #1: What are the differences between NNSs and NSs of English in the pragmatic features of requests concerning academic topics sent to unfamiliar professors? NS messages score higher than NNS messages for per- locutionary effect (3.14 : 2.20). NS messages score average for politeness, while NNS messages score more overly polite (3.07 : 3.33). NS messages contain more acceptable formal features of pragmatics (subject, greeting, closing, no emoticons). NS messages contain more acceptable and consistent content features of pragmatics (few upgraders).

41 Results of Research Study Research Question #1: What are the differences between NSs and NNSs of English in the pragmatic features of requests concerning academic topics sent to unfamiliar professors? NS messages score higher than NNS messages for perlocutionary effect (3.14 : 2.20). NS messages score average for politeness, while NNS messages score more overly polite (3.07 : 3.33). NS messages contain more acceptable formal features of pragmatics (subject, greeting, closing, no emoticons) than those of NNSs. NS messages contain more acceptable and consistent content features of pragmatics (few upgraders) than those of NNSs. NS messages score most acceptable for grammar, while NNSs score less than acceptable (2.5 : 1.5) NS messages average 1 request, while NNSs average 2 requests.

42 Research Question #2: What are the effects of instruction in the usage of appropriate pragmatic features when writing requests? Data analysis shows gains in the use of acceptable formal features of pragmatic requests from pre- to post-tests after treatment. Delayed post-test shows gains maintained but not at the level of the immediate post-test. - Pre: 6.3/9, Immediate Post: 8.4/9, Delayed Post: 7.6/9 Data analysis shows gradual improvement toward the use of acceptable content features of pragmatic requests from pre- to post-tests after treatment. - more acceptable content features of pragmatics - fewer upgraders used - however, no trends can be found in the data set

43 Research Question #2: What are the effects of instruction in the usage of appropriate pragmatic features when writing requests? Data analysis shows gradual improvement toward the use of acceptable content features of pragmatic requests from pre- to immediate post- to delayed post-test. - more acceptable content features of pragmatics - fewer upgraders used - however, no trends can be found in the data set - analysis of content features problematic No changes found in spelling or grammar from pre- to immediate post- to delayed post-test. - spelling and grammar discussed in treatment but not the focus No changes found in the number of requests per message, and no significant differences found in wpm after treatment.

44 Data analysis shows significant gains in the use of acceptable formal features of pragmatic requests from pre- to post- tests after treatment.

45 Additionally, data analysis shows significant gains in the acceptability of the formal features used from pre- to immediate post-test, which were not maintained in the delayed post-test.

46  Additionally, data analysis shows significant gains in the perlocution of the messages from pre- to immediate post-test, which were not maintained in the delayed post-test.

47 Graph of perlocution gains from pre- to immediate post- to delayed post-tests. Although perlocution showed improvement after treatment, there was very little change in politeness.

48 Implications of Research Study Results ESL students need explicit instruction on the proper use of pragmatics; Guidelines for pragmatics can and should be taught; Ready-to-use materials on this topic are both useful and necessary; pragmatics should be addressed periodically instead of just in one treatment; Instruction in pragmatics can improve the perlocution of NNS requests, can improve the use of formal features, and may improve the use of content pragmatic features Instruction in pragmatics may help students create messages that achieve desired results.

49 Future Research Continue data analysis to determine what makes messages more perlocutionarily acceptable. Continue data analysis to determine if there are certain formal and content pragmatic features that make messages more perlocutionarily acceptable. Continue to gather more data from undergraduate ESL students to add to this corpus. Study treatment design on NSs to determine if gains are similar to NNSs. Elicit help of additional raters to code a portion of the data to determine the reliability of the coding scheme and rating.

50 Conclusion Thank you for attending!


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