Using authentic spoken texts in socio-pragmatic focused instruction: A survey of teacher practices and perspectives
This project sought to discover to what extent teachers had access to suitable authentic materials to teach the important norms of pragmatics (socio-culturally appropriate use of language) in situations relevant to the personal and academic or employment lives of their students.
Project team: Heather Denny, AUT University and Helen Basturkmen, University of Auckland
Funded by the Ako Aotearoa Northern Regional Hub Project Funding scheme
A researcher and teacher-researcher have recently carried out a survey and a series of interviews involving 18 teachers of English in a multi-level tertiary institution in Auckland. This project sought to discover to what extent teachers had access to suitable authentic materials to teach the important norms of pragmatics (socio-culturally appropriate use of language) in situations relevant to the personal and academic or employment lives of their students. It also sought to find out what strategies these teachers used to teach the norms and their attitudes and beliefs about the use of authentic spoken texts (ie recordings of genuine native speaker interaction) in the classroom with learners at different proficiency levels.
Both the survey and the interviews gave interesting insights into the teachers’ beliefs and attitudes but also unexpectedly identified some areas in which the teachers needed education and support in order to engage in professional debates and to develop suitable materials for the teaching of socio-cultural norms. It also identified areas in which there is a lack of suitable materials for the teaching of pragmatics (texts of casual conversation and transactional exchanges, resources for teaching learners with lower proficiency levels and New Zealand models).
This kind of teacher survey could be of use to teacher educators in assessing the needs of more experienced teachers. The findings could also be of interest to materials developers in New Zealand in identifying perceived gaps in existing resources.
This project is the first stage of a materials development project in which four of the eight teachers interviewed will work with the teacher-researcher and researcher to develop semi-authentic sample texts for the teaching of pragmatic norms in adult migrant classrooms and evaluate them.
Who is likely to find this useful?
The report would be of most use to teacher educators. It models a useful approach to needs analysis for teacher education. The initial teacher survey gave us an insight into teachers’ attitudes, beliefs and practices around the teaching of the pragmatic norms of spoken English and also clearly identified areas in which teachers could benefit from further support, education and awareness raising. There are two approaches to meeting these needs. One would be to run teacher workshops with a number of teachers. The other is to work intensively with a few teachers. We have chosen to do the latter in the later stages of the project – materials development and evaluation - with four key teachers. It is hoped that the experience of the selected teachers in developing and trialling new materials for teaching pragmatic norms will not only enhance their understanding but also lead to some dissemination of ideas amongst associates and colleagues as well as a higher level of discussion and debate around the issues raised.
The report may also be of some interest to materials developers, as it identifies areas in which there is a lack of suitable materials for the teaching of pragmatics (texts of conversation and transactional exchanges, resources for teaching learners with lower proficiency levels, New Zealand models).