Paper presented at the Association of Teachers of Japanese Seminar, March 4, 2004

Town and Country Resort, San Diego, California, U.S.A.

 

Web-based Learning Material for Pragmatic Competence: Talkpoint Project

Emi Yamanaka

Harvard University

Abstract

Numerous researches have proved the importance of language learnersf pragmatic competence.  Although gspeech act (illocutionary act)h is promoted in L2 classrooms to address pragmatic competence using textbooks, sociolinguistic studies, or data (Cohen, 1996; Bardovi-Harling, 1992), these methods of teaching them have been the topic of much discussion due to their limitations (Hobbs, 2003; Hadley 1993).  In order for students to be able to deal with various situations appropriately in another culture, students (after certain level of proficiency is acquired) should be exposed to ample authentic examples of native speakersf output, have direct communication with them, and obtain cultural awareness (Yamanaka, 2003).  Schmidt (1993) states cultural awareness is ignored or unnoticed unless it is directly addressed.  In order to address such awareness, it is crucial to have an ongoing dynamic process of negotiating meaning and understanding differences of perspective (Furstenberg et al., 2001).  Technology makes this possible even when students are not in the country where the target language is spoken.  I have created, with grant from the Japanese government, a web-based learning site where both Japanese people who are studying English in Japan and Japanese language learners in the U.S. can post their solutions to given situations in their native language or in the language used in the country they live, compare the two, and have direct communication each other.  Teachers help students to be exposed to native speakersf output, experience the process of understanding the differences/similarities and obtain cultural awareness.  The situations are systematically distributed based on power, distance, and ranking of imposition, which crucially affect manners in speech acts (Brown & Levinson, 1978; Hudson et al, 1995; Yamashita, 1996).  This website is available for all the Japanese and English language teachers.  The posted messages will also be available as data for future sociolinguistic studies for language teachers and researchers.  Visit: http://www.talkpoint.org

 

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