Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module LANG41915: Pragmatics and the Language Classroom

Department: English Language Centre

LANG41915: Pragmatics and the Language Classroom

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None.
Tied to Q3K203, Q3K307


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Excluded Combination of Modules

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  • to provide an up-to-date understanding of pragmatics as the basis for contemporary syllabus design/materials development and classroom practice, thereby countering the prevalent speech act dominated influence of pragmatics on language teaching methodology in which native member sociopragmatic awareness and native speaker pragmalinguistic formulas are considered relevant.


  • Speech acts aside, there is surprisingly little literature on the implications of most pragmatic phenomena for L2 pedagogy. Accordingly, this module will consider a range of phenomena which are often overlooked despite their significant implications for L2 pedagogy and classroom practice, especially in the ELF context. These include indexicality (how language encodes context), the relationship between words and mental representation, presumptive meaning (the degree to which the implied meaning of an utterance is predictable from its form), implicature (the inferences that a hearer must make in order to understand a speaker), the metapragmatic dimension of language (how speakers direct hearers in the interpretation of utterances by means of intonation, discourse markers, etc), propositional attitude (the stance speakers take in relation to what they say), pragmatic accommodation (how speakers in intercultural encounters converge) and language evolution seen from a pragmatic perspective.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a wide range of contemporary pragmatic phenomena relevant to second language learning as detailed above
Subject-specific Skills:
  • understand and be able to describe the role of pragmatic knowledge in determining appropriate language teaching methodology and effective classroom practice
  • be accustomed to thinking about the functional as well as the formal properties of language and be able to take into account appropriateness and optimality as well as grammaticality in course planning, materials selection and design and classroom teaching
  • recognize the relevance of different pragmatic phenomena in cross-cultural and intercultural communication
  • have an enhanced ability to react to learners' use of language in a pragmatically aware way
Key Skills:
  • analyzing data, using digital technology for instructional purposes, developing academic literacy, enhancing metalinguistic awareness

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • the default teaching method will include a short student-led PowerPoint presentation related to an area of pragmatics, followed by a tutor input leading to class discussion of the implications of the area studied for language teaching practice. Sometimes this will be at a practical level (for example, we might discuss the implications of lexical pragmatics for vocabulary teaching), sometimes at the level of methodology or rationale (for example, we might think about whether the path of second language acquisition should follow the path of language evolution). The teaching methods will therefore include tutor-fronted input, student presentation, data analysis, participatory discussion and debate.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 weekly 2 hours 18
Preparation and Reading 132

Summative Assessment

Component: Pragmatics Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Preparation of a short PowerPoint presentation in a small group 2-4 slides 15%
Design of a classroom activity 1 activity in RBT format 25%
Completion of an 'interview' in writing 1,500 words 60%

Formative Assessment:

<enter text as appropriate for the module>

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University