Rahman Nazari Anarestani Rahman Nazari Anarestani

A Lesson In Pragmatics
Beginner level


In this lesson, students learn and work with some fundamental concepts and terms in the discipline of pragmatics. The lesson starts with a dialogue from their coursebook that can trigger their curiosity about use of words and the meaning they can communicate rather that their linguistic meaning. It will continue with introducing the primary terms and some predominant classical theories in pragmatics through different interaction patterns.


Abc Sts' coursebook
Abc whiteboard
Abc handouts
Abc power point material

Main Aims

  • the main aim of this lesson is to introduce students to the basics of pragmatics, from the most frequently used jargon to some prominent and influential theories in the field and to make sure that they have got a clear picture of what has been taught.

Subsidiary Aims

  • to have a hands-on approach to pragmatics so that the lesson enables students to relate pragmatical concepts and theories to real-life conversations easily and to prepare them for conversation and discourse analysis with some practices on a few conversations after the lesson or as HW.


Warm-up/Lead-in (5-8 minutes) • To set the context, engage students' attention in the topic and activate their schemata

After "good morning"ing everyone and each other, T asks Ss about what they have learnt about words and meanings so far to elicit some words related to the linguistic meaning of words and sentences including utterance, reference, presupposition, entailment, etc. T asks "what discipline does this approach fall into?" to elicit the word ' semantics'. Next T asks if there are any instances of the time we use words to say something completely different from the words and their meanings. T ask Ss to consult each other about the q. The answer will probably be a series of "yes" and "no" ( mostly "yes" because of their exposure to linguistic materials). T asks Ss to come up with examples for such phenomenon. T then put either one of Ss' examples or this dialogue on the board: A: Will Sally attend the meeting today? B: Her car broke down. T asks - Is the B sentence is -from a semantic point of view- an appropriate answer to q A? -No- - Is B really intended to give some info about Sally's car? -No- - Will A be puzzled by B sentence or he gets what he needs? -Yes- T tries to elicit the word pragmatics for this approach to use of words. At the end of this stage T either shows a slide on which the sample dialogue from the coursebook is displayed or has Ss turn to the first page of the chapter and asks them to read the sample dialogue and find a few examples of the same nature as the one introduced above. T then tell Ss that they will work on this sample dialogue later in the lesson to understand the upcoming concepts and theories.

Introduction (10-12 minutes) • to provide Ss with a definition of pragmatics and its aim

T pairs Ss and asks them to write a definition for pragmatics. After a round of reading and listening to each pair's answer and give positive reinforcement to the Ss with acceptable answers, T turns on the slide projector and turns to a slide on which there is a definition of pragmatics with some words missing and asks students to work in pairs and complete the definition. " Pragmatics is concerned with interrelationship between language 1----------, and language 2 ----------." After a minute or two T checks the answers with the WC. answers: 1. form 2. users At this point T turns to the slide on which Ss can see three qs that pragmatics explores. 1. How do people communicate more than their utterances might mean themselves? 2. Why do people choose to say and/or interpret something in one way rather than another? 3. How does people's perception of contextual factors influence the process of prducing and interpreting language? T asks Ss to recall the discipline of semiotics and the concept of code-model. In the event that none of Ss can explain the terms T asks the Ss to find them in their coursebook on page 72 - the first page of the chapter, last paragraph. T asks the WC: T: Is code-model the same or different from how we communicate through our real-life conversations? How are they different? To elicit answers: -different- / the code-model works merely with messages that can be perceived the same by both sides signs WHILE human communication uses the signs - words in written language- and also heavily relies on people's capacity to engage in reasoning about others' intention.

Pragmatic meaning (10-12 minutes) • To teach Ss three facets of an utterance and understanding them in order to have a grasp of the pragmatic meaning of the utterance

T displays the slide with the three tasks that one should do in order to understand the pragmatic meaning o an utterance: 1. The assignment of reference 2. Figuring out what is communicated directly 3. Figuring out what is communicated indirectly T then explains that the task of pragmatics is to explain how participants in a dialogue move from decontextualized meanings of words to a grasp of their meaning in context. T then divide the WB into 3 columns and writes the above-mentioned tasks at the top of each column. Next T divide the class into groups of 3 then puts a number of cards on the table. On the cards there are words and phrases related to the three tasks that pragmatic meaning involves. Ss stand up come to the table and pIck the cards one after another. Ss should work in their group and find out each card goes to which column and stick the cards under the right title on the whiteboard. On the cards randomly given to the groups we read: - Referent - Deictic expressions - vague linguistic expressions - Ambiguous linguistic expressions - What hearer assumes that the speaker intends to suggest - implicated After every group has stuck all their cards on the board, T asks them to sit down and T checks the answers wit the WC and explains why each word or phrase goes to a certain column. Being confident of the fact that Ss have understand the different levels of decoding an utterance, he them may have Ss find examples for each from the dialogue provided at the beginning of the chapter in their coursebook. T invites one of the Ss to write the examples from the dialogue under the relevant column. T then provides WC feedback.

Theories/ Jigsaw reading (20-25 minutes) • To make Ss familiar with the classical and basic theories in pragmatics and with the terms related to them

T pairs Ss and explain to Ss that each pair will be assigned to study 2 of the theories or a models in pragmatics mentioned in their coursebook and after they finish reading, they will explain the part they have read to their classmates. And other pairs can ask them questions about their part. When the task is done by Ss, T then turn to the slides and have a revision of what Ss has just said and provide them with more information and examples if necessary. The theories and concepts Ss should read and talk about are: - Grice's theory of co-operative principle and maxims - Grice's theory of conversational implicature - Relevance theory by Sperber and Wilson - Illocutionary force by J.L.Austin/ Felicity conditions - Explaing social factors/ 3 main elements put forward by Brown and Levinson - Impact of social factors - Pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic proposed by Leech - Face model by Brown and Levinson/ positive/negative face and 3 main variables in face model - Pairs of adjacency and insertion sequence - Context, what is it, and what are the main elements of it

Research in Pragmatics (10-12 minutes) • to give Ss a clear picture of how research with different approaches to pragmatic works

After a short break T asks Ss to think about previous stage of the lesson and say what different approaches to pragmatics might be there? To elicit answers: a. cognitive psychological approach b. social psychological approach T then asks Ss what is the focus of each approach and what do they deal with? to elicit answers: a. Cognitive approach explore qs like "what is communication?" and "how is communication possible?" and cognitive pragmaticists are interested in the relationship between the decontextualized, linguistic meaning of utterances, what speakers mean by their utterances on given occasions and how listeners interpret those utterances in those given occasions. b. Social pragmaticists focus on the ways in which communicative exchanges between individuals are embedded in and constrained by social, cultural and other contextual factors. T uses the related slides to provide Ss with feedback T asks Ss to think about all diffrent typs of data collection in linguistics and pragmatics. there are a variety of ways and methods including video/audio-recording and detailed field notes to collect on-line discourse, such as authentic conversations, elicited conversations and role-played interactions; and it uses questionnaires, diaries and interviews to obtain off-line pragmatic data in which participants report, discuss and/or comment on their use of language T asserts that all these methods can be used in pragmatic research too.

Pragmatics in language learning and teaching (15-22 minutes) • to explore the different aspects of language learning and teaching with regard to pragmatics

Ss are asked by T to work in pairs and answer the question why pragmatics plays an important role in learning and teaching a second language and what makes it important to teach pragmatic language. - A: People generally set out to learn another language because they want to expand their possibilities of communication. As we have seen, there is more to communication than knowledge. T continues using slide to talk about the likelihood of pragmatic transfer and pragmatic differences between languages and asks students to compare the language they know and come up with some relevant answers. T then draws Ss attention to the limits and boundaries one should be aware of when it comes to teaching pragmatic language to learners. 1 Is the target pragmatic feature teachable at all? 2 Is instruction in the targeted feature more effective than no instruction? 3 Are different teaching approaches differentially effective? The T tries to get Ss to think about the matrials they have been exposed to for learning English and tell how pragmatically efficient those materials were and compare it with earlier and newer materials or Language coursebooks. In the end, T tells Ss that there an interesting kind of final part to this section in their coursebooks and have them turn to page 88 and read the part titled "Pragmatic performance and learner identity" and then reflect on it and share it with the whole class.

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