Embedding ICT to teach and assess the pragmatic targets of refusals and disagreements in spoken English

Halenko, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9906-6418 and Flores-Salgado, Elizabeth (2020) Embedding ICT to teach and assess the pragmatic targets of refusals and disagreements in spoken English. British Council ELT research papers .

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This study employs innovative ICT tools to enhance an explicit instructional period to help international learners develop their pragmatic competence, defined as ‘the ability to communicate and interpret meaning in social interactions’ (Taguchi, 2011: 289). Specifically, the study focuses on developing Mexican learners’ ability to produce pragmatically-appropriate refusals and disagreements in spoken English, which are relatively under-explored interlanguage features and have been reported to differ amongst Spanish and English first language speakers (e.g. Félix-Brasdefer, 2006; 2008). Virtual role plays and online learning activities designed for the study are incorporated into the instruction with an experimental group (n = 16), and used as assessment tools during the testing stages which include a control group for comparison purposes (n = 16). A pretest-posttest design is employed to measure the extent of instructional gains within and between the two groups. In addition, participants reflect on their experience of using technology-enhanced materials. The results are viewed from the perspectives of how appropriate the responses are, acknowledging that differences in the status of the interlocutor and contextual situation will trigger different ways to refuse or disagree, and from a linguistic perspective with regards to the content and organisation of the responses. The aim is to examine to what extent technology-enhanced teaching and learning can benefit the development of these specific pragmatic targets.

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