Introduction to the Pragmatics Module
Hi, my name is Dale Koike. I'm a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department of the University of Texas at Austin. My interests in research are in pragmatics and discourse analysis and the interface that these have in second language acquisition. I teach Spanish Applied Linguistics to teachers, which is a teacher training course at the undergraduate level and courses in Spanish pragmatics and applied linguistics and acquisition at the graduate level.
First of all, why is it important to have a module on pragmatics for these teacher training modules. First, pragmatics is, basically and broadly speaking, a representation of language in use. By that definition, it is central to the objectives of foreign language teachers and students who are, for the most part, trying to put language into use to communicate their intentions and to understand the intentions of others in that target language. It is also important to know how to react to those intentions and expressions. Pragmatics, then, is at the core of putting all the linguistic elements together to communicate and to understand. Secondly, pragmatics encompasses language not only at the linguistic level but also at the social and cultural levels. I believe that if teachers approach language learning via pragmatics, they can transmit a broader view of language to their students. It also creates a focus on communication instead of only discrete items alone. And third, pragmatics reflects quite closely an emphasis on the language functions in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century that are established as general benchmarks that we want our foreign language students in this country to reach. In this module I am just giving a specific shape to these language areas of pragmatics, which are embedded in our general goals.
A little bit about how I organized this module. In the first unit, I wanted to begin by defining what pragmatics is and presenting some of the concepts of pragmatics that are used in the modules. Other terms are seen in the glossary in different parts of the module. In the second lesson on pragmatics and second language learning, we move to problems of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication, which is a big issue that learners face when learning another language. In the third lesson, we go to the role of pragmatics in the second language classroom, and what teachers and learners can do to foster an awareness and use of pragmatics in the second language. We move in the fourth lesson to what can be expected from learners at various proficiency levels and what we might think about when assessing learners' pragmatic production. And finally, in the Workshop unit of "Putting It into Practice," we see what the student teachers in the class that was videotaped came up with when they were given various assignments in pragmatics.
- 1 Terms and Scope
- Terms most relevant to discussing pragmatics.
- 2 Cross-cultural Communication
- Pragmatics is relevant to L2 learning for issues of cross-cultural communication, as guided by norms of the L2 society.
- 3 Pragmatics in the L2 Classroom
- Ways that pragmatics can be used in the language classroom.
- 4 Pragmatics and Proficiency Levels
- Connecting pragmatic production to learner proficiency levels.