"In order to communicate successfully in a target language, pragmatic competence in L2 must be reasonably well developed."

That's fine, but how do we teachers go about bringing that about in class?
Senior Member3,149
pragmatic competence ... how do we teachers go about bringing that about in class?

Can't be done -- unless you're willing to impose your culture on them, of course.

CJ
Veteran Member51,982
Moderator: A super-user who takes care of the forums. You have the ability to message a moderator privately should you wish. These users have a range of elevated privileges including the deletion, editing and movement of posts when needed.Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
<Can't be done -- unless you're willing to impose your culture on them, of course.>

Is the pragmatic use of language wholly different in the USA to that used in other parts of the world?

And would one be imposing culture on all NNES if he/she were to teach the use of this type of implicature?

Sue: How was your dinner last night?
Anne: Well, the food was nicely presented.

-----------

And would you then advise against teaching "Is the Pope a Catholic?" for fear of imposing your culture?

------------

And is it better to feel you may be imposing than to be a party to allowing the situation below to take place?

"If a non-native speaker appears to speak fluently, (i.e., is grammatically competent), a native speaker is likely to attribute his/her apparent impoliteness or unfriendliness, not to any linguistic deficiency, but to boorishness or ill-will. While grammatical error may reveal a speaker to be a less than proficient language-user, pragmatic failure reflects badly on him/her as a person....Pragmatic failure, then, is an important source of cross-cultural communication breakdown ."

Thomas (1983)
If we fear that we may be imposing our culture on NNESs in guiding them to pragmatic competence, what should we do about the situation below?

"Holmes and Brown (1987) offer the example of a male student who attempted to compliment his teacher by saying, "You are wearing a very lovely dress. It fits you" (p. 525). The teacher found this compliment from a young male student inappropriate. However, research on language use shows that American speakers frequently compliment on looks and clothes (Manes and Wolfson, 1981; Wolfson, 1989). Textbooks also teach these types of compliments as one of the common ones used by American speakers of English. How could this student have known then, that this compliment may give unintended messages rather than showing his interest in using the language? How can a learner figure out the norms of appropriateness for various speech acts and different interlocutors in the target culture? "

How can an ESL learner do that without some guidance from the teacher?

It continues:

"An Iranian student at Shiraz University receives from her American lecturer the recommendation letter that she has asked him to write for her and then turns to him and says, "I'm ashamed." Bewildered by the student's response, the lecturer asks, "What have you done?!!!" "...

"These are examples of pragmatic failure that L2 learners encounter when they are involved in the act of communication. Trying to get the meaning across, they may simply translate speech acts from their mother tongues to the second language. Pragmatic failure, unlike grammatical errors, often passes unchecked by the teacher or, worse, it is attributed to some other cause, such as rudeness. Examples like the above instigate us to assume that we ought to teach the rules of appropriate language use."

So, to teach it or not is the question?
Is the pragmatic use of language wholly different in the USA to that used in other parts of the world?

The entire USA compared to the rest of the world?
Well, the pragmatic implications of words like 'jihad' and 'crusade' have been known to cause problems.

But to stay closer to home, the pragmatic implications of the most insignificant remarks can be different from one household to another!!!

-- The trees in your yard are growing really tall.
-- Yes, aren't they beautiful? And they must give you a lot of pleasant shade in your yard too!
-- Yes, we enjoy them tremendously in the summer.

-- The trees in your yard are growing really tall.
-- It's taken years for them to reach that height.
-- Well, it will only take a few hours to cut them down. They make a mess of leaves in the fall, and there's so much shade that I can't have a vegetable garden anymore. In fact, if you don't get rid of them, I'm going to sue you.

CJ
Moderator: A super-user who takes care of the forums. You have the ability to message a moderator privately should you wish. These users have a range of elevated privileges including the deletion, editing and movement of posts when needed.Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
CalifJim.

But to stay closer to home, the pragmatic implications of the most insignificant remarks can be different from one household to another!!!

CJ
And I imagine there would be some international uses which would be parallel to those used in different households across America. So, would one really be wholly imposing one's culture if one taught pragmatic competence in an ESL /EFL class?
No. Not wholly. But if in the student's culture the concept of property is quite different, or the idea of a law suit is quite different, or any of a number of factors, it may quite mystify the student at first. Some words bring in concepts that are foreign, and then you end up having to teach culture.

But back to the original question - how to do pragmatics in the classroom: role-playing, perhaps?

CJ
Moderator: A super-user who takes care of the forums. You have the ability to message a moderator privately should you wish. These users have a range of elevated privileges including the deletion, editing and movement of posts when needed.Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
<But back to the original question - how to do pragmatics in the classroom: role-playing, perhaps? >

Yes, roleplays, and other simulations.
Live chat
Registered users can join here