German discourse particles in the second language classroom
Teasing apart learning problems at the syntax-pragmatics interface
One of the main pedagogical objectives for language learners at high proficiency levels is to use ‘cohesive devices’ when writing a text or conducting a conversation. Usually, curricula stress the importance of clause-internal cohesion (by means such as connectives: and, but, when, because, etc.). By contrast, we stress the importance of cohesion at the level of the dialogue and in this context focus on discourse (aka ‘modal’) particles as a means to yield cohesion at that level. In this domain, German discourse particles represent a challenging learning objective for second language learners of German. This paper explores some production patterns of German discourse particles in L2 German by L1 Italian learners. We show that looking at those elements can provide new insights because these elements allow us to tease apart problems within syntax as compared to the lexicon-pragmatics interface in second language learning.