A strategy-based approach for teaching L2 pragmatics: The moderating role of motivation


A strategy-based approach for teaching L2 pragmatics: The moderating role of motivation

Pragmatic instruction has been demonstrated to be effective in improving L2 learners’ pragmatic ability, with various factors, such as the type and length of instruction, shown to moderate its effectiveness (see Ren et al., 2022, for a review). Employing a pre-test, post-test, and delayed post-test design, this study investigates the effect of strategy-based pragmatic instruction (Usó-Juan, 2022) on developing Chinese EFL learners’ pragmatic ability, specifically in relation to writing appropriate student-faculty invitation-request[1] emails. Additionally, it examines the role of motivation, categorised into three types: email pragmatic motivation, pragmatic motivation, and L2 motivation, in moderating the effectiveness of instruction. A total of 188 university students completed a motivation questionnaire, based on which 30 were selected to form a high-motivation group and another 30 a low-motivation group. The participants then completed a Discourse Completion Task (DCT) to establish their initial pragmatic ability. They subsequently received 12 hours of pragmatic instruction over one month, in which they were taught three cognitive and three metacognitive strategies (Taguchi, 2018) to help them acquire the form–function–context mapping of email invitation-requests in academic contexts. The post-test was administered one week and the delayed post-test six months after the instruction. Results indicate that both groups showed significant improvement in the two post-tests, as reflected in their increasing use of less direct strategies, mitigators, as well as full openings and closings (Economidou-Kogetsidis et al., 2021). However, the improvements in the frequency of use of such devices over time do not differ significantly between the high motivation and low motivation groups, which indicates a weak effect of motivation on the effectiveness of pragmatic instruction. The results affirm the efficacy of the novel strategy-based approach in teaching L2 pragmatics, and highlight the moderating role of motivation in the process of pragmatic instruction.



Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2019). Invitations as request-for-service mitigators in academic discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 139, 64–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.10.005

Economidou-Kogetsidis, M., Savić, M. & Halenko, N. (Eds.). (2021). Email Pragmatics and Second Language Learners. John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.328

Ren, W., Li, S. & Lv, X. (2022). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of second language pragmatics instruction. Applied Linguistics, XX(XX), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amac055

Taguchi, N. (2018). Pragmatic competence in foreign language education: Cultivating learner autonomy and strategic learning of pragmatics. In I. Walker, D. K. G. Chan, M. Nagami & C. Bourguignon (Eds.), New Perspectives on the Development of Communicative and Related Competence in Foreign Language Education (pp. 53–70). De Gruyter Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501505034-004

Usó-Juan, E. (2022). Exploring the role of strategy instruction on learners’ ability to write authentic email requests to faculty. Language Teaching Research, 00(0), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/13621688211066997

[1] Invitation-requests are defined as “requests for professional service” but realised “in the format of invitations” (Bardovi-Harlig, 2019, p. 64).

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