Feb 5, 2016: Andrew Cohen

Professor Andrew Cohen, Professor Emeritus at University of Minnesota, will be discussing his research, “The Learning of Pragmatics from Nonnative Teachers” at UC Davis. Please attend this exciting talk.

Time: Friday Feb 5, 2016, 4pm – 5:30pm

Location: SS&HB 2203

The talk will focus on how nonnative teachers of a target language (NNTs) deal with pragmatics in their classes. The talk will start by describing what pragmatics entails. Then issues relating to the teaching of pragmatics will be identified, such as the language background of the teacher, comparisons between second- (L2) and foreign-language (FL) instruction, and the potential role of digital media and other means in providing models for pragmatic behavior. The talk will then report on an international survey (N=113) intended to probe into the experiences of NNTs of various languages while teaching the pragmatics of their language of instruction. Thirty native-language teachers (NTs) and 83 NNTs respondents were asked to indicate what they taught with regard to pragmatics. They were also asked to report on their experience as teachers of L2 and FL pragmatics (e.g., if they encountered classroom moments when they did not feel like an authority on some aspect of pragmatics, what they did about it). Since pragmatics is a meeting of language and culture, the teacher respondents were asked to assess their knowledge in both pragmalinguistics (language form) and in sociopragmatics (sociocultural knowledge). In addition, they were asked to give their opinion regarding similarities and differences between the teaching of FL as opposed to L2 pragmatics, as this traditional dichotomy gives way to a more hybrid reality in an increasingly globalized world. Similarly, they were asked about their methods for teaching pragmatics (e.g., their use of digital media and their handling of dialect differences). Finally, they were asked to suggest areas in which they would like to see research conducted that would inform the teaching of pragmatics. The talk will report the findings from the study, including statistical differences in reported teaching of criticism, sarcasm, and cursing, as well as in the use of digital media and in having their students gather data on pragmatics.

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Andrew Cohen is a professor in the Second Language Studies Program. He served as the Director of the Language Resource Center at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) from 1993-2004 and has been active with numerous projects within CARLA.

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