chapter  3
Revisiting Clarifications
Self- and Other-Clarifications in Corpus-Based Pragmatics Instruction
WithKathleen Bardovi-Harlig, Sabrina Mossman, John Rothgerber, Yunwen Su, Kyle Swanson
Pages 29

Background and purpose: The ability to use target-community pragmatic routines develops slowly when not taught, but instruction can be facilitative. Here we draw from two instructional approaches to providing authentic pragmatic input—corpus-based materials (materials prepared by teachers from corpus excerpts) and corpus searches (teacher-supported hands-on searches of a corpus by learners)—to teach a particularly challenging pair of speech acts and their corresponding pragmatic routines, self-clarifications (e.g., What I mean . . .) and other-clarifications (e.g., What do you mean . . .?).

Method: Intact communication classes in an intensive English program received pragmatics instruction that combined teacher-developed corpus-based materials with teacher-supported hands-on learner searches in a new instructional condition. The combined instruction was presented in two units over two weeks. A computer-delivered oral discourse completion task measured students’ interlanguage production before and after the treatment. The efficacy of the combined approach is tested against previous results for the two approaches alone and a control group (Bardovi-Harlig, Mossman, & Vellenga, 2015b; Bardovi-Harlig, Mossman, & Su, 2017), totaling 71 learners in four groups in the data set.

Findings: The students demonstrated improvement after receiving the combined instruction. Overall, students produced clarifications as clearly as previous groups using only corpus-based materials and they used pragmatic routines similarly to previous groups using only corpus-search activities. Individual learner performance suggests that instruction affected all learners similarly for speech-act clarity, but differentially for pragmatic-routine production. When other- and self-clarifications are analyzed individually, only other-clarifications showed a significant effect for instruction. However, interlanguage analysis of self-clarifications suggests development from pretest to posttest toward the target.

Conclusions: The experimental lessons that integrated teacher-developed corpus materials and corpus searches by learners retained the advantages of the individual approaches. Corpus-materials activities may boost speech-act clarity and corpus-search activities may foster use of pragmatic routines.

Pedagogical suggestions: Teachers can combine teacher-developed corpus-materials with corpus searches by students in order to promote interlanguage pragmatic performance more effectively than either approach alone. Research materials may serve as a source for the creation of effective teaching materials for L2 pragmatics.