Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 16 (1):123-152 (2020)

Abstract
This qualitative classroom study investigated the development of pragmatic competence in academic discussions through content analysis of student reflective writing. The aims of the study were: to understand the greatest challenges that students faced during the learning process, the causes of those challenges, and the most successful strategies that students employed to overcome the challenges. In addition, the analysis investigated other significant themes in the reflective writing that related to the students’ experiences in developing their pragmatic competence in discussions. Five advanced English for Academic Purposes students at a Sino-US institution in China participated over the course of a semester. Results showed that common challenges included: hesitation resulting in missed opportunities to speak, lack of clarity when speaking, inability to repair communication breakdowns, and difficulty with listening comprehension. Self-reflection allowed the learners to understand the various reasons for the challenges they faced and to develop appropriate pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic strategies for coping with them. It also enabled the instructor to make suggestions suited to learners’ specific needs. In addition to revealing specific challenges, causes, and strategies that students employed, themes that emerged through content analysis included the impact of students’ emotional lives on their learning and performance, as well as the value of authentic communication in the development of pragmatic competence for academic discussions. This exploratory classroom investigation provides suggestions for teaching pragmatic competence in academic discussions and for additional classroom explorations that empower learners to develop autonomy.
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DOI 10.1515/lpp-2020-0006
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