Having discussed the importance of pragmatic competence, it is clear that target instructions of pragmatics should be one of the teaching goals. Since foreign language teachers are mostly non-native, gaining knowledge about the speech act, its strategies and cultural background is the essential. As mentioned before, using authentic materials and empirical researches as tools to understand English language is crucial. Nowadays, not only teachers but also students have access to the sources that contains useful materials on different speech acts.
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One of the activities that may help teachers focus on the speech act of complaining is a class discussion in which learners compare first language and their culture with the target language and culture. It’s worth mentioning that this kind of activity raise students’ pragmatic awareness of socio-cultural norms and behaviours. Having discussed questions like ‘What is a complaint?’ or ‘How do people express complaints in your country and how is it different from what people say in English?’, learners attention is drawn to the significance of accurate speech act in maintaining social relations. Moreover, highlighting differences between ways of complaining benefit learners who in turn begin to avoid negative pragmatic transfer. It has been suggested that sharing experiences and knowledge help learners be aware of the risk of miscommunication. Another way to compare complaints is so-called direct translation.
An example of instructions for this type of tasks prepared by Hillard (2017, p.6) is as follows: “Imagine you are complaining to someone in your first language. Write down what you would say for the three situations […], and then translate them directly to English without changing anything. How does the English version sound?”. Being able to compare both responses, learners find out which answers sound inappropriate in second language. Moreover, different kind of situations provide various information that reveal relationship between social status, context and the way of complaining.
It is highly important for learners to acquire forms and functions of speech act so as to effectively apply needed information and make the statement in the target language. To make that possible, learners can be provided with videos and passages from books or magazines. Giving learners specific examples and scenarios of speech acts in second language is valuable as well. Materials can be found in websites, podcasts or taken from television shows and movies. Linguistic and cultural information gathered from authentic materials can be turned into a real asset. Apart from that, teachers can prepare additional list of complaining utterances with various situations to create more productive activities like dialogues made by students or even role play. Those kind of activities are a great way for learners to explore various forms of speech acts as well as factors that influence them. In order to achieve the goal of acquiring pragmatic competence, learners should be given diverse contexts and social settings.
It should be bore in mind that social status of the interlocutor plays crucial role as well. It is important to remember that it is not sufficient for learners to deal with isolated sentences, but utterances embedded in a real context. To make activities more successful and encouraging, teachers can expand on the traditional role play by asking students to make both pragmatically appropriate and inappropriate scenario. Acting out and creating “bad version” of speech act stimulate learners to discuss and repair the mistakes they made. In activities like this, students’ ability to reflect upon language is developed.
There is a consensus among methodologists that pragmatic competence comprises both pragmalinguistic competence that includes the knowledge of forms and speaking strategies and sociopragmatic competence which explains social conditions that govern language use. Thus, paying equal attention to both features is highly advised. Both aspects can be practised by debating on differences between sociocultural norms or practising constructions which is often used to make socially appropriate complaints in second language. Explicit reflection on sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic aspects like perception of politeness and pragmatic knowledge can help learners to become more confident and be aware of cultural differences.
Although spoken activities of complaints in EFL classroom has been proposed, written competence should be promoted too. Since written complaints are popular, teacher can ask learners to write an email with complaint while suggesting that speech realization is more likely to be formal. Listening skill is another aspect that can be developed through exposing learners to audio-recorded scenarios. There is a good reason to believe that combination of various receptive and productive skills when conducting activities enhances pragmatic competence of learners.
The discussion of the main findings and the principal issues and suggestions which have arisen in this essay highlights how crucial is incorporating pragmatic instructions into the language classroom. The ability to create utterance in context-sensitive way becomes a paramount goal of modern language teaching. Since pragmatic competence is a fundamental part of efficient intercultural communication, well-prepared learners are able to communicate confidently in English. As English is seen as lingua franca, it is crucial to enhance learners intercultural communication skills. Moreover, well-developed pragmatic competence results in the ability to respond and react appropriately depending on variety of situations. It is important to remember that insufficient focus on pragmatic development as well as small number of activities may cause undesirably effects such as inadequate behaviour and speech or misunderstandings.
So as to avoid pragmatic failure and develop flexibility in learners choices between realization patterns and increase cultural awareness, learners should be given proper tools to gain knowledge about pragmatics.
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