Acquisition of Pragmatics:

Week 8 Study Guide


Reading 1:

Acquisition of Pragmatics: ISLA Chapter 13

Study Notes


Pragmatics. It’s an expansive topic and like grammar, you can assume that there are some elements that are more learnable / teachable, and other elements that are less so. In that light, I reiterate the idea that just because something may be comparatively less easy to learn, you should not necessarily avoid it as a teacher. It’s a judgment call. Yes, there is an energy cost-benefit calculation to be made, but also consider that in many cases, we as teachers just need to get learners to take initial steps on the path to acquisition, perhaps with direct instruction or carefully scaffolded noticing, and then let life experiences do the rest. So in this respect your pedagogical decision is not about achieving mastery, but on where to start your learners out on their own private journey, and which elements REALLY would benefit from teacher intervention in some form. Remember, teaching can be as much about “setting up learning situations” as “direct teaching”


Be prepared to describe in class what a lesson on a pragmalinguistic feature might look like, and a lesson on a socio-pragmatic feature.


Study Questions


  1. 224 Provide plausible definitions for the following (even in your own words): deixis, conversation management, pragmatic routines and conventional expressions, presupposition. If you need to go to Wikipedia, do so.
  2. This chapter provides a clear indication about “WHAT can be learned”. What does it have to say about HOW learning proceeds (HLP)? Do not confuse HLP with how language is taught (HLT): 1 paragraph maximum.
  3. Which of the teaching suggestions appeal to you?


Reading 2:

ISLA Chapter 15 Pronunciation Acquisition

Study Notes

This article generally speaks to research about pronunciation with respect to English as a Foreign Language contexts and adult learners. At first glance, the article may seem less relevant to K-12 teachers. However, since so much stigma is associated with accents, and since pronunciation does matter, it is incumbent upon us to have some informed opinion on the topic. The basic premise I adhere to when teaching is this: 1) pronunciation practice/ instruction is embedded in, or accompanies, communicative language pedagogy. In other words, pronunciation instruction follows a Focus on Form type of intervention with some strategic noticing built in 2) younger learners  (5th grade and under) may need some instruction but not need as much focused instruction as older learners because basic literacy practices in the lower grades develop phonological awareness as a matter of course. Also young learners are less likely to fossilize in this domain anyway and will “pick up” pronunciation over time Not the case with older learners. 3) Intelligibility is the teaching / learning goal. I generally feel that interventions in the area of pronunciation is most relevant while the learner is of low to intermediate proficiency. WIDA levels 1-3. If you can get learners to start paying attention to aspects of the sound system from an early stage of learning, (noticing hypothesis), then they may be more likely to acquire


Study Questions


  1. What are advantages of intelligibility as the guiding principle for pronunciation pedagogy over the nativeness principle?


  1. What are the constructs or dimensions of language that would necessarily be addressed if pedagogy was guided by the intelligibility principle?


  1. To what extent do you feel the k-12 context in which you work implicitly or explicitly values either nativeness or intelligibility?


  1. Are there any students in your purview whom you feel would benefit from explicit instruction in pronunciation? What is their L1 and what speech characteristics do you feel could be remediated?


  1. What does the author have to say about the role, timing, and focus of corrective feedback for pronunciation remediation?


  1. What other factors lend to efficacy of pronunciation pedagogy?


  1. Why would a text read-aloud task show better pronunciation performance than a picture description task?

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