Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
This study examined the effectiveness of teaching adult English language learners (ELLs)
how to mitigate requests in the workplace and elsewhere. The participants represented 12
different countries and 11 languages and were enrolled in a high-intermediate level ELL
class in a large-urban Adult Basic Education (ABE) program. Participants’ pragmatic ability
with regard to making requests was assessed through a discourse completion test (DCT)
administered as a pretest, followed by instruction in pragmatics (with a focus on requesting)
and then by another DCT similar to the first one serving as a posttest. The pre- and
posttest results were compared with the analysis focusing on the relative frequency of
explicitly taught lexical phrases and forms. Participants’ responses to a course evaluation
questionnaire were also collected and analyzed.
Findings indicated that while participants were aware of the use of modal verbs to show
politeness prior to instruction, there was a noticeable increase in forms virtually absent in
the pretest data, namely, the past continuous tense and understaters such as just (a
minute), and a little (bit). Additionally, findings showed high attendance contributed to an
increased use of those phrases and forms. Participants responded favorably to the
instructional techniques. The results of this instructional pragmatics study contribute to a
relatively small body of literature involving the effectiveness of teaching second-language
(L2) pragmatics to an ABE English language learner population.
Teaching adult English language learners to mitigate requests: a pilot study.
Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
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