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Classroom Discussions and Pragmatics

It is generally accepted that classroom interaction can facilitate students’ language development and communicative competence (Yu, 2008). The most common proposition of the role of classroom interaction is its contribution to language development simply by providing target language practice opportunities. According to Allright (1984), it is the process whereby classroom language learning is managed. In the language classroom the process of negotiation involved in interaction is itself to be identified with the process of language learning. The notion of negotiation is generally defined as ‘discussion to reach agreement’. Learners acquire linguistic knowledge and ability through the interaction.

Furthermore, one of the classroom interaction patterns is classroom discussion, which Yu (2008) considers it as a productive teaching technique. Discussion can be a powerful means of allowing students to engage actively with course material and develop their own views based on sound critical thinking. Barton et al (2004) argue classroom discussion functions best when students are talking to students. Indeed, our goal is to get as many students involved in talking to one another as possible and for the teacher to fade into the background. Students are well practiced in how to talk to and listen to teachers, in how to address and look to authority figures for answers. But they are not well versed in how to talk to and listen to each other, in how to navigate and negotiate and discuss issues of serious consequence and work toward answers among equals.

From the perspectives of applied linguistics, Liu (2007) states that more and more focus has been put on communicative language teaching, or communicative approach, an approach to foreign or second language teaching that emphasizes communicative competence as the goal of language learning. Communicative competence refers to the ability not only to apply the grammatical rules of a language in order to form grammatically correct sentences but also to know when and where to use these sentences and to whom. And there are still some other terms thought to be more effective in describing what it means to know and to be able to use language knowledge. One of these is Bachman’s (1990) communicative language ability and pragmatic competence. Pragmatic competence is generally considered to involve not only the ability of knowing how to use the language but also how to select the language forms to use in different settings, and with people in different roles and with different status.

Moreover, Nunn (2004) states that pragmatics has much, possibly more, to tell us about communication in the educational contexts where so many of us spend so much of our lives communicating and where communication is of the essence. Harlig & Taylor (1999) states that pragmatics explores the ability of language users to match utterances with contexts in which they are appropriate. In the other words, pragmatics is "the study of linguistic acts and the contexts in which they are performed". The main purpose of pragmatics, in the relation to language teaching is to facilitate the learners’ sense of being able to find socially appropriate language for the situations that they encounter. Within second language studies and teaching, pragmatics encompasses speech acts, conversational structure, conversational implicature, conversational management, discourse organization, and sociolinguistic aspects of language use such as choice of address forms.

Regarding the conversational implicature, Grice’s maxims, which are intended to be seen as a set of rules to be obeyed, could serve as useful guiding principles for teachers. Teachers, or students, as normal human beings, deliberately flout them, or unwittingly violate them. Experienced teachers could usefully make conscious attempts to self-observe, applying Grice’s maxims to their spoken communication with students and might also want to consider them as means of making written communication more efficient.
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  1. berkunjung pagi hari di blog sahabat.. :)

  2. Pak blognya bagus...
    tapi saya kok nyari materi kuliah bapak malah bingung sendiri ya, yang mana...gt?? :)

  3. All the materials I put them in "handouts" page..tq...


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