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Teaching Pragmatics in the Classroom: Instruction of Mitigation in Spanish as a Foreign Language

J. César Félix-Brasdefer
Hispania
Vol. 91, No. 2 (May, 2008), pp. 479-494
DOI: 10.2307/20063733
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20063733
Page Count: 16
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Teaching Pragmatics in the Classroom: Instruction of Mitigation in Spanish as a Foreign Language
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Abstract

Using pedagogical intervention and a pre/posttest, and delayed posttest design, this study examines the effects of explicit instruction on the use of lexical and syntactic mitigators in refusal interactions among intermediate learners of Spanish as a Foreign Language. This quasi-experimental design included two intact classes assigned to two different groups: experimental and control. For both groups, pragmatic development was observed over the course of one semester. Baseline data (L1 English, L1 Spanish) were also collected. Learners participated in four role-play refusal situations with two native speakers of Spanish, one for formal and one for informal situations. The experimental group was exposed to metapragmatic information featuring explicit teaching on lexical and syntactic mitigators, followed by communicative practice. Results from the posttest (a week after treatment) showed that the pragmatic ability of learners in the experimental group, but not the control group, changed significantly. One change observed was the emergence of different and a higher frequency of both lexical and syntactic mitigators on both posttests, while the control group mostly employed lexical mitigators. Another change noted among the experimental group was the retention of most mitigating devices one month after instruction.

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