Strategy-based learning of pragmatics for intercultural education

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This chapter deals with an area that has come into its own in research on second language (L2) learning, namely, that of language learner strategies, and, in this specific case, the application of strategies to the learning and performance of L2 pragmatics. Consistent with the theme of this volume, the underlying concern is with the potentially important role of strategies in heightening learners’ ability to make informed choices with regard to how they handle intercultural situations. The focus is on assisting learners in developing a more robust repertoire of strategies for their handling of pragmatics within intercultural communication. The aim is to support learners in building a toolkit of common pragmatic options that can be used as they co-construct communication in a variety of intercultural interactions. To begin addressing these issues, a strategic approach to L2 pragmatics was included in the underpinnings of two online spaces – a website and an online virtual space, both intended for the learning of pragmatic behavior appropriate in a variety of Spanish-speaking contexts. A taxonomy of strategies for learning and performing L2 pragmatics was applied to the construction of a website, Dancing with Words, aimed at learning the pragmatics appropriate for Spanish-speaking world, with strategy material integrated into the website. Research was conducted by means of two studies, involving both this Spanish pragmatics website and a synthetic immersive environment (SIE), Croquelandia, which was designed as a 3-D immersive space for the learning of pragmatic behaviors in Spanish. Results showed some reported differences in strategy use in the two different kinds of digital environments, with the finding of most relevance to the notion of intercultural education discussed in this volume being that in the SIE learners reported an increased use of metapragmatic strategies for dealing with L2 pragmatics. This finding highlighted the role of strategies in making informed choices about pragmatics.


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