Reham F El-Shazly
The Role of Pragmatics Instruction in Language Learning in The Context of English as a Foreign Language
ABSTRACT The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of pragmatics instruction on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners’ perception and production of requests as well as exploring the learners' attitudes towards their target language (TL) learning experience. Informed by Schmidt’s Noticing Hypothesis (1993,1995,2001) as the theoretical framework, this study was carried out to examine the role and the effect of pragmatic intervention in raising the learners’ awareness and sensitising them towards pragmatic aspects of target language in EFL Contexts. Forty-four EFL undergraduate Egyptian participants who share one common first language background, Egyptian Arabic, received 10-week of instruction using informed eclectic model of pragmatic instruction. The instruction involved metapragmatic information consolidated with meaningful practice, along with awareness raising techniques using proactive typographical input enhancement. Using a pre-and post-intervention design with two experimental groups, learners’ recognition and production of the target speech act were evaluated through Multiple-choice Discourse Completion Task (MDCT) and Written Discourse Completion Task (WDCT), respectively. Data concerning the learners’ attitudes were gathered using four self-reported diaries. Data were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively using statistical, quantitative approaches for the former and a pre-determined framework adapted from Blum-Kulka et al. (1989) for the latter. Grounded theory and qualitative approaches of analysis were employed to chart the learners’ burgeoning pragmatic awareness and their attitudes towards target language learning experience. Findings showed that learners were able to achieve statistically significant gains in their pragmatic perception and awareness on the post-intervention MDCT. Following the instructional phase, participants demonstrated significant improvement in their production of request forms. Results evinced significant increase in the variety and appropriate use of internal and external modifications as well as apparent decrease in the learners’ use of direct request strategies in the post-intervention productions. However, few strategies were seen to be inappropriately applied in few situations in the WDCT responses. Most of the learners were also noted to embrace a positive attitude towards the TL learning experience with varying degrees. The majority of the learners were able to identify and manage the affective barriers that seemed to impede their language learning however, quite a few were still challenged. These findings suggest the strong instructional role of pragmatic instruction on the learners’ learning of request-making expressions and forms beneficially. This study contributes to the interventional and the developmental research in L2 pragmatics by exploring three layers of knowledge, with special emphasis on the interplay between pragmatics competence and the learners’ voice.