Assessing the Pragmatic Competence of Greek University Students in English

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This paper discusses a genre-based C2-level language exam designed to primarily assess university students’ L2 pragmatic competence (Erton, 2007). The exam, which is given to second-year students of English language and literature, comprises three parts, (i) reading, (ii) writing, and (iii) language awareness which explicitly addresses students’ pragmatic competence. Assessment of pragmatic competence on the basis of the language awareness part of the exam is considered a central aspect of the test specifically designed for university students coping with linguistic and literary courses, while training to qualify as EFL teachers. Assessment of pragmatic competence is also considered an innovative aspect of the specific exam because it addresses students’ ability to retrieve pragmatic assumptions conveyed by the lexicogrammatical features of the text; in other words, it addresses students’ ability to understand “meanings that are not directly stated in text, or […] the main implications of text” (Alderson, 2000: 7). It is suggested that this part of the exam is a more reliable tool for assessing candidates’ pragmatic competence compared to WDCTs (Brown 2001; Kasper and Rose 2001; for criticism, see Golato 2003; Mey 2004) or speech act recognition tasks (for a review, see Garcia 2004), on two grounds: (a) it is a holistic discourse-based approach to testing pragmatic competence, in the sense that both explicit and implicit meanings are retrieved by drawing on a naturally-occurring wide range of lexical and grammatical features, and (b) it engages learners in a genuine reading context requesting the reader’s spontaneous reaction and contribution to the process of meaning making in L2.

REFERENCES
Alderson, Charles (2000) Assessing Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, James Dean (2001) “Pragmatic Tests”. In Kenneth R. Rose and Gabrielle Kasper (eds), Pragmatics in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 301-326.
Erton, Ismail (2007) “Applied Pragmatics and Competence Relations in Language
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Garcia, Paula (2004) “Developmental Differences in Speech Act Recognition: A Pragmatic Awareness Study” in Language Awareness 13(2): 96-115.
Golato, Adrea (2003) “Studying Complement Responses: A Comparison of DCTs and Recordings of Naturally Occurring Talk” in Applied Linguistics 24(1): 90-121.
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Keywords: Pragmatic Competence, Language Awareness, L2 Learning, Tertiary Level Education
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Raising and Assessing Pragmatic Awareness in L2 Academic Language Learning


Dr. Angeliki Tzanne

Assistant Professor in Linguistics, Department of English Language and Literature
Faculty of English Studies, University of Athens

Athens, Greece


Dr. Elly Ifantidou

Assistant Professor in Linguistics, Department of English Language and Literature 
Faculty of English Studies, University of Athens

Athens, Greece


Dr. Bessie Mitsikopoulou

Assistant Professor in Linguistics, Department of English Language and Literature 
Faculty of English Studies, University of Athens

Athens, Greece


Ref: L09P0526