Preparing adult ESL students for the workplace
The relationship between second language (L2) comprehensibility and pragmatics is explored in two experiments involving instruction of speech acts to learners enrolled in a Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program. The study was designed to determine whether improved pragmatic competence results in enhanced comprehensibility (how easy L2 speech is to understand). Two intact classes participated; one received 25 hours of pragmatics instruction, while the control group received the standard curriculum (no focus on pragmatics). Both classes were recorded in role-plays based on several scenarios at pre- and post-test. Transcriptions of the role-plays were coded according to a rubric; although the control group showed superior performance at the outset, the experimental group’s scores exceeded those of the Control group at post-test with a medium effect size. A subset of pre- and posttest role-plays (two refusals and two requests) were randomly assigned to 56 native English listeners who rated the speech samples for social appropriateness, comprehensibility, and fluency. The experimental group’s posttest productions on all scenarios were perceived as significantly more socially appropriate, with three scenarios showing significant improvement in comprehensibility. Although one scenario improved in fluency, another showed a decline. The results suggest that pragmatics instruction enhances L2 speech comprehensibility.
Keywords: pragmatics instruction, comprehensibility, fluency, adult immigrants, oral communication skills
- 1.1Learning context
- 2.Experiment 1
- 2.1Research question
- 2.3.1Instructional materials development: Job-shadowing
- 2.3.2Curriculum development
- 2.3.3Classroom instruction
- 2.3.4Assessment measures
- 2.4Results of experiment 1
- 2.4.1Statistical analyses
- 3.Experiment 2
- 3.1Research questions
- 3.3Listening stimuli
- 3.5Results for experiment 2
- 3.5.1Statistical analyses and exemplar excerpts
- 4.Posttest interview
- 4.2Most important thing learned
- 4.3Which is more difficult to learn, culture or language?
- 4.4Confusing aspects of Canadians’ speech
- 5.Discussion and conclusions
- 6.Limitations of the study and implications for future research
- 7.Implications for language programs and employers
Published online: 06 October 2021
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