Volume 24 Number 2, June 2020 Special Issue:Technology-enhanced L2 Instructional Pragmatics

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    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2020-06-01) LLT Staff
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    Email requests: Politeness evaluations by instructors from diverse language backgrounds
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2020-06-01) Winans, Michael
    This study investigates syntactic modifiers as part of the request speech act within email messages and builds on studies of L2 pragmatics within computer-mediated communication to identify how modifications affect perceived politeness. Enrolled in first-year composition courses, the participants formed two groups: English L1 (EL1) students (n=32) and English-language learning (ELX) students (n=25). Request head acts were analyzed using Biesenbach-Lucas’s (2007) findings with respect to syntactic modifiers as formulated in the Cross-Cultural Study of Speech Act Realization Coding Framework (Blum-Kulka, House, & Kasper, 1989). Previous research has shown that mitigation of the directness of a request affects the perception of politeness. The results of this study show that syntactic modifiers (e.g., past tense, progressive aspect, and syntactic embedding) were used to a greater extent by EL1 students, and that the modifiers correlated with politeness, as rated by instructors. However, the data also indicate that the limited use of syntactic modifiers did not have an effect on the politeness of ELX writers who were perceived as more polite than their EL1 counterparts. This study calls into question past research that does not take into account the learning environment nor the diverse language backgrounds of both students and instructors.
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    Robot-Assisted Instruction of L2 Pragmatics: Effects on Young EFL Learners’ Speech Act Performance
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2020-06-01) Alemi, Minoo ; Haeri, Nafiseh
    Technology, as a source of instruction, has fulfilled various purposes in foreign language learning environments. During the last decade, Robot-Assisted Language Learning (RALL) has attracted teachers’ and researchers’ attention due to the look and feel of humanoid robots. However, in the field of pragmatics, studies highlighting the role of RALL have gone relatively unnoticed. To bridge this gap, this study sought to explore the effect of RALL on pragmatic features, including request and thanking speech acts by young Persian-speaking EFL learners. For this aim, 38 preschool children (3 to 6 year-old boys and girls) with no English learning experience were randomly assigned to the RALL (19 students) and non-RALL (19 students) groups. In the RALL group, a humanoid robot was used as an assistant to the teacher to play games, repeat the sentences, and interact with the students. In the non-RALL group the lessons included games similar to those in the RALL group, but without the presence of the robot. There were eight one-hour teaching sessions over a period of four weeks for both groups. Following completion of the lessons in both groups, the results of post-tests were analyzed using an independent sample t-test. The findings revealed a significant difference between the RALL and non-RALL groups’ pragmatic performance for thanking and requesting. Based on these findings it can be concluded that RALL instruction was more effective than non-RALL instruction in improving the young learners’ performance.
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    Patterns of peer interaction in multimodal L2 digital social reading
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2020-06-01) Law, James ; Barny, David ; Poulin, Rachel
    Although L2 reading is traditionally framed as an individual enterprise, digital annotation tools (DATs) have recently been developed allowing groups of readers to collaborate and provide mutual scaffolding through collective annotation of texts (Blyth, 2014; Thoms, Sung, & Poole, 2017). These tools reframe L2 reading as an interactive process where meaning is socially constructed. Digital social reading supports a multiliteracies approach to teaching L2 pragmatics. This study investigates interactional patterns in social reading across multiple groups of learners. In total, 215 students enrolled in 11 sections of a beginning university French course used the DAT eComma to annotate six L2 songs over three months. We performed a mixed-methods analysis of the annotations. Social engagement, as measured by the frequency of questions and replies as well as word count, decreased over time, and the use of linguistic affordances increased in later songs. However, these patterns were highly variable across the sections. Language choice, social engagement and register, among other factors, were influenced by the shared practices of members of each section. Through their interactions, participants co-constructed meaning about the texts themselves as well as broader cultural and pragmatic questions. Instructors reported that engagement in class discussion corresponded to that of the online discussion.
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    Beyond the curriculum: Extended discourse practice through self-access pragmatics simulations
    (University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center, 2020-06-01) Sydorenko, Tetyana ; Jones, Zachary ; Daurio, Phoebe ; Thorne, Steven
    Usage-based linguistics posits that communicative functions, including pragmatics, are at the core of language (Tomasello, 1992). It is surprising, then, that pragmatics is rarely systematically included in second language curricula (e.g., Bardovi-Harlig, 2017), especially since pragmatics instruction has been shown to significantly contribute to pragmatic development (e.g., Taguchi & Roever, 2017). Addressing this issue, the present study investigates learning outcomes and processes in self-access technology-enhanced instructional simulations for pragmatics that do not require classroom or teacher time. Importantly, these simulations include 1.) oral practice of extended discourse and 2.) feedback—two underexplored aspects of pragmatics instruction (e.g., Holden & Sykes, 2013; Sydorenko, Daurio, & Thorne, 2018). Two versions of the self-access simulations were examined: implicit-only instruction (15 participants) and implicit combined with explicit instruction (11 participants). The quantitative analysis of learners’ production data and self-reported noticing revealed that both groups were similarly able to extract relevant (but varying) pragmatics features from instruction. The qualitative analysis, however, revealed that individual learner differences may be a critical factor in the effectiveness of implicit versus explicit instruction. The present study also illustrates how time spans and competition between cognitive resources affect pragmatics learning. In sum, this research informs further development of self-access pragmatics materials.