The aquisition of pragmatic competence in an L2 classroom: giving advice in Spanish

Access full-text files




Mwinyelle, Jerome Banaya

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation investigates the effect of instructional video, metapragmatic discussion and explicit pragmatic instruction on the acquisition of the advice speech act (SA) by second language (L2) learners in fourth-semester Spanish courses at the university level. Though universals of pragmatics may facilitate the development of interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) (Kasper and Schmidt, 1996), L2 learners display a noticeably different L2 pragmatic system in both production and comprehension than native speakers (Bardovi-Harlig, 2001; Kasper, 1997). ILP research has shown that even among advanced L2 learners, L2 pragmatic competence is lacking (Kasper & Schmidt, 1996; Kasper & Rose, 1999). In response to this problem, the investigation proposes an appropriate and effective way to facilitate the acquisition of L2 pragmatic knowledge. The study adopted a design including pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest with three groups, incorporating video, metapragmatic discussion, and pragmatic instruction into its treatments in order to teach sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic components of the Spanish advice SA. The data used for the study were collected from the learners by means of role-play and were transcribed and quantitatively analyzed. The learners’ advice realizations were analyzed for the following: (a) advice head act; (b) typical linguistic items; (c) amount of speech; (d) level of formality; (e) level of directness; and (f) politeness. Also, assessments from instructors and learners about the treatments and the teaching of Spanish pragmatics were collected and analyzed. The findings of the investigation indicate that the instructional approach that included the use of video, metapragmatic discussion and pragmatic instruction, enabled the learners in this particular group to perform better than the other two groups in acquiring L2 pragmatic competence of the Spanish advice SA. These results imply that the L2 instructional techniques and opportunities for meaningful language practice in the classroom used here may result in gains of L2 pragmatic development.