From the Editors
We are pleased to offer our second guest guest-edited special issue. TESL-EJ Editorial Board member Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh, Texas A&M University, has edited an excellent issue on pragmatics and pragmatic competence. We’re sure you will benefit from the variety of articles and contexts that are presented on this very important topic.
We hope you enjoy this special issue of TESL-EJ.
Introduction to the Special Issue
This special issue of TESL-EJ focuses on Pragmatics in Language Teaching and Learning. Recent studies support the development of communicative competence as the goal of language teaching. The pragmatics of nonnative speakers has mainly focused on second language use, not development (Kasper & Rose, 2002). The papers in this issue contribute to three major areas in the theory of communicative competence: a) the theoretical concerns related to defining and measuring the components of pragmatic competence, b) effect of explicit instruction on the development of pragmatic competence, and c) presentation of pragmatics in textbooks designed for second language learners.
In the first paper, “Pragmatic Comprehension of High and Low English Language Learners” Paula Garcia explores the nature of communicative competence and contributes to our understanding of the different components of this construct. The study shows the differences in processing of linguistic meaning compared to pragmatic meaning and illustrates the importance of contextual factors in pragmatic comprehension. Garcia’s study reveals the developmental differences in the comprehension of pragmatic meaning. One of the strengths of this study is the use of naturally occurring language samples from authentic academic contexts that can be used by other researchers and practitioners to tap into the pragmatic comprehension abilities of their students. This study sets the tone for the other two studies in this issue.
The second paper, “The Effect of Explicit Metapragmatic Instruction on the Speech Act Awareness of Advanced EFL Learners” by Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh, A. Eslami-Rasekh, and A. Fatahi applies pragmatic research to EFL teaching. The study shows that even advanced EFL learners, with high linguistic proficiency, do not necessarily possess pragmatic competence. The authors of this study report that explicit metapragmatic instruction embedded in the syllabus and purposeful class activities significantly facilitates pragmatic acquisition. The study, a contribution in the area of developmental pragmatics, provides valuable practical teaching suggestions for teachers.
Finally, the last paper, “Learning Pragmatics from ESL & EFL Textbooks: How likely?” by Heidi Vellenga, reports on the quantity and quality of pragmatic information included in ESL and EFL textbooks. One of the biggest strengths of this paper is its comprehensive treatment of pragmatic information found in the ESL/EFL textbooks. Vellenga does not limit her data to textbooks but also examines teacher’s manuals. To expand her findings, Vellenga also surveyed teachers for their views on the quality and quantity of pragmatic information in textbooks and the use of any supplementary materials on pragmatics. The study shows that learning pragmatics from textbooks is highly unlikely because pragmatic information and authentic examples of speech acts are rarely used by textbook developers. The author ends the paper with some valuable suggestions for textbook writers.
The papers in this issue add to the literature in a relatively new field of educational pragmatics and highlight the importance of helping learners develop pragmatic competence to appropriately use language in different contexts.