The use of computer-delivered structured tasks in pragmatic instruction: An exploratory study

and Tetyana Sydorenko
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  • Tetyana Sydorenko is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University. Her research interests include teaching and acquisition of SL pragmatics, computer-assisted language learning, psycholinguistic processes in SL acquisition, and assessment. She is currently investigating the use of adaptive computer-simulated conversations in the teaching of SL pragmatics.
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This study examines the effect of oral practice via computer-delivered structured tasks (CASTs) with native speaker (NS) models and open-ended tasks without NS input (i.e., learner-leaner role-plays) on pragmatic development of second language learners. While prior studies have indicated that structured tasks afford more opportunities for focus on form (FonF) than open-ended tasks (Lee and VanPatten 2003; Lyster 2004; Ranta and Lyster 2007; Skehan and Foster 1999; Tavakoli and Foster 2011), differences between these tasks in pragmatic instruction (PI) have not been examined. Additionally, the effect of practice has been widely examined with regard to oral development, but much less so for pragmatics (e.g., Li 2013; Takimoto 2012a). In this study, one group of ESL learners practiced request speech acts via CASTs, and another group did so via learner-learner open role-plays. Qualitative analysis of participants’ output during practice suggests that rehearsal via CASTs promotes FonF and incorporation of NS models into learners’ speech, while rehearsal via role-plays results in more creative, but often pragmatically inappropriate, language and content. Additionally, role-plays, but not CASTs, appear to be conducive to humorous language play, metapragmatic discussions, and extended turns similar to those in naturalistic interactions. The study offers insights regarding task types in PI.

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Intercultural Pragmatics is a fully peer-reviewed forum for theoretical and applied pragmatics research. The journal promotes the development and understanding of pragmatic theory and intercultural competence by publishing research that focuses on general theoretical issues, more than one language and culture, or varieties of one language, while making a special effort to cross disciplinary boundaries.