International Academic Journal of Social Sciences

  • ISSN 2454-3918

Is Pragmatics Teachable?

Seyed Mohammad Ali Mansoorian, Mohammad Rasoul Homayoun and Amin Jamali Nasab

Abstract: It has long been debated that a linguistic theory which only pays attention to linguistic issues must be considered an inadequate linguistic theory. Effective communication cannot be achieved without extra-linguistic factors; that is why pragmatics comes into the play. Pragmatics deals with the incongruities between what is said and what is meant, because in most real life communications, speakers mean more than what they say semantically. Analysis of classroom-based research on L2 pragmatics tells about both limitations and potential of L2 classroom for learning pragmatic, saying that it can be travelled only through data-based studies. In order to investigate how pragmatic learning is affected by instruction, the following points were paid attention to: (1) what makes us pragmatically competent? (2) Pragmatic development theories, (3) pragmatic competence processes, and (4) factors affecting pragmatic development. Kasper (1997 & 1992) believes that a great sum of L2 pragmatic knowledge is available to adult learners, which can be attained without any specific instructions; some pragmatic knowledge is claimed to be universal, or it is successfully transferred from L1 to L2 (through positive transfer), while at the same time the probability for negative transfer increase as well. However adult learners do not always use such information available to them through mere exposure. The implication, here, is that learners need instruction for pragmatic development. It should be noted, however, that whether instructors could truly benefit from research-based recommendations for pragmatic learning depends on their own pragmatic awareness, that‟s why some researchers speak about implicit teaching of pragmatic issues which calls for consciousness raising. As Cook (1985) correctly points out, instructors need to be aware and at the same time knowledgeable of pragmatic components in order to bring them to learners‟ attention. The study conducted by Tateyama, et. Al. (1997) showed that we are to sensitize learners to such pragmatic information. The key task of language instructors might be to raise learners‟ pragmatic awareness and offer more opportunities for communicative practice in classroom context.

Keywords: pragmatic, linguistic theory, sociocultural theory, communicative competence

Page: 144-151

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2016