Pragmatics in the Classroom

Pragmatics is a discipline that focuses on the relationship between speakers and the meaning of words. In this book, Joseph Siegel offers a set of practical guidelines for teaching pragmatics in a speaking class. First, he suggests using request scenarios. In these exercises, the teacher creates a series of hypothetical situations and provides features for each. Students then discuss which response is appropriate for each scenario. They can then extend this activity to various types of interlocutors.

The classroom is a natural environment for language experimentation, making classrooms an excellent place for pragmatic competence acquisition. In pragmatic instruction, learners are asked to determine the most appropriate language use in a given situation. As with all other language lessons, pragmatic lessons can be integrated into existing lesson plans. For example, an instructor may add information about different ways to apologize in a target language and a home language. A teacher may choose to include pragmatic lessons for a variety of reasons, including student need.

Pragmatics differs from semantics in that it focuses on the use of language in context. It also studies the context-dependency of various aspects of linguistic interpretation. Branches of pragmatics include indexicality theory, ambiguity theory, and speech act theory. These theories are derived from the work of different philosophers.

Relevance theory, on the other hand, treats pragmatics as a study of how hearers understand utterances. Relevance theory focuses on the meaning of what the speaker means, rather than on the meaning of the phrase or sentence. This is the most common approach in contemporary philosophical pragmatics. The two approaches largely share the same general principles, but focus on different aspects of pragmatics.

In the 19th century, Frege and Russell proposed that the ordinary sense of a sentence, or the proposition expressed, is the reference for the ambiguous context. Russell published “On Denoting” in 1905. These two works have been central to the philosophy of language and semantics. The study of these attitudes has become a central topic of study.