Vol. 8. No. 2 A-3 September 2004
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Learning Pragmatics from ESL & EFL Textbooks: How Likely?

Heidi Vellenga
Northern Arizona University


The textbook is the center of the curriculum and syllabus in most classrooms; however, rarely does it provide enough information for learners to successfully acquire pragmatic competence. This paper reports on a qualitative and quantitative study of 8 English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks to determine the amount and quality of pragmatic information included. Detailed analysis focused specifically on the use of metalanguage, explicit treatment of speech acts, and metapragmatic information, including discussion(s) of register, illocutionary force, politeness, appropriacy and usage. Findings show that textbooks include a paucity of explicit metapragmatic information, and teachers' manuals rarely supplement adequately. Teacher surveys show that teachers seldom bring in outside materials related to pragmatics, and thus, learning pragmatics from textbooks is highly unlikely. Implications suggest that textbook developers could include authentic examples of speech acts and sufficient metapragmatic explanations to facilitate acquisition of pragmatic competence.

Keywords: ESL,EFL,second language acquisition, pragmatics, discourse analysis, textbooks


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