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2017 Conference - An Ecological Perspective on Interlanguage Pragmatic Development
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A foundational component of human interaction is person-to-person understanding through pragmatic behaviors, that is, the expression and understanding of meaning. While pragmatic miscommunications are easily identifiable as they occur, the majority of successful pragmatic behavior is not as salient. Furthermore, immense variety, individual choice, and an increasing number of emerging interactional contexts, make the patterns for communicating and interpreting meaning increasing difficult to define, teach, and assess.

This presentation draws on learner data to demonstrate the affordances of an ecological perspective for interlanguage pragmatic teaching and learning. Specifically, it explores these issues in light of three fundamental characteristics of van Lier’s (2004) ecological model – context, emergent patterns, and variability. Using an ecological perspective to drive instructional practices offers both a means to address the inherent challenges related to pragmatic instruction, as well provide solutions for the practical realities teachers face when including pragmatics in structured classroom settings.

In doing so, the presentation addresses the following questions:

  1. In what ways does an ecological perspective around context, emergent patterns, and variability shape our theoretical understanding of interlanguage pragmatics?
  2. In what ways can these findings inform classroom practice?

In a dynamic system of conversational dynamics, an ecological perspective offers a means to both embrace the inherent complexity needed to understand and refine pragmatic behavior while simultaneously providing a heuristic that is meaningful, applicable, and relevant to everyday classroom practice.

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