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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Creating a Social Context Through Film: Teaching L2 Pragmatics as a Locally Situated Process


Pragmatics is an underrepresented area in L2 instruction, in spite of disciplinary emphasis on communicative skills (de Pablos-Ortega, 2011; Eisenchlas, 2011). Films have been shown to be capable of mitigating this lack of pedagogically prepared materials (Abrams, 2014; Kambara, 2011; Fernández-Guerra, 2008; Grant & Starks, 2001; Washburn, 2001), and may provide scaffolding for teaching pragmatics as a dynamic, context-dependent phenomenon. In line with current research in pragmatics, wherein participants’ motivations, communicative purpose, and social context play significant roles in communication (Boxer, 2002; Kecskés, 2006, 2012; LoCastro, 2011; Scollon & Wong-Scollon, 2003), the present study compares how authentic filmic materials—in contrast with textbook models—help participants develop pragmatic skills that reflect a locally contextualized, emergent view of interaction. Collaborative dialogues of thirty first-year learners of German at a U.S. university were analyzed using interactional sociolinguistics (Piazza, Bednarek, & Rossi, 2011; Tannen, 2005, 2006). Results indicate that film-based dialogues prompted more pragmatically nuanced interactions than did textbook tasks.


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