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Andrew Cohen
University of Minnesota
November 6 – 10, 2008

 Lecture title: “The Teaching and Learning of L2 Pragmatics: Where Language and Culture Meet”

Friday, Nov 7, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Faculty Club (IMU)

This talk starts by giving a rationale for why there is value in explicitly teaching second-language (L2) learners pragmatics in the target language.  The importance of a research basis for choosing pragmatic materials to teach is underscored, and the focus is put on sources for materials on pragmatics and the means of data collection.  Issues in the teaching of pragmatics are considered, including determining which material to teach, how to prepare teachers to teach it, and the role of teachers in facilitating the learning of pragmatics.  Next, L2 pragmatics is viewed from the learners’ perspective, in terms of the learning and performance of pragmatics. Consideration is given to the role of technology in making pragmatics accessible to learners, with reference to a website for teachers and curriculum writers and to websites designed for learners of specific languages such as Japanese and Spanish. Recent work on a virtual environment for practicing Spanish pragmatics is also discussed, and results from two studies which examined learner perceptions are reported.  The first was an in-depth qualitative study of the website for learning Spanish pragmatics and the second an in-depth study examining the use of a synthetic immersive environment (a 3-dimensional gaming space) for pragmatic acquisition. Implications for pedagogy and research will be presented.


*Please contact Prof. Félix-Brasdefer if you plan to attend these workshops    (

Workshop #1
Saturday, Nov 8, 2008.
Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Location: Ballantine Hall 006

"Learners' Pragmatic Performance: Making Mistakes and Making Choices"
Andrew Cohen, University of Minnesota

The workshop will first deal with some basic terminology in pragmatics.  Then we will look at learners' divergence from pragmatic norms, whether unintended or by choice.  Participants will engage in an activity where they look at examples of L2 learners pragmatic divergence in order to recognize the potential source or combination of sources for their divergent pragmatic behavior.

Handout Workshop #1
Activity Workshop #1

Workshop # 2
Saturday, Nov 8, 2008
Time: 1:00-3:30 p.m.
Location:  Ballantine Hall 118 (Computer Lab)

“Web-based Instruction in Pragmatics for Teachers of Less-Commonly-Taught Languages”
Andrew Cohen, University of Minnesota

Sponsored by: Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center

 This workshop will start with the basics of pragmatics, with a focus on speech acts.  Then participants will familiarize themselves with websites about second-language pragmatics developed through the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota.  The websites are intended for teachers, curriculum writers, and for learners themselves.  One of these websites has descriptions of six speech acts (apologies, complaints, compliments and responses to compliments, requests, refusals, and thanks), with examples from various languages (e.g., English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew).  The other websites focuses exclusively and in depth on the pragmatics of a LCTL, Japanese, as well as on the pragmatics of a MCTL, Spanish.  The workshop will include an activity intended to give participants an opportunity to explore resources on the CARLA websites for the speech act(s) of their choice, and to share their findings with others.

Handout Workshop #2
Activity Workshop #2

Workshop/Lecture # 3
Monday, Nov 10, 2008
Time: 11:00-12:15 p.m.
Location:  Ballantine Hall 118 (Computer Lab)

“Strategizing about your Grammar: A New Website for Learners of Spanish”
Andrew Cohen, University of Minnesota

This presentation will speak to the issues of successful language learners and the strategies that they use, Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)/technology, and efforts to facilitate the learning of second-language grammar.  The talk will start by giving background on the ways that experts use the terminology associated with strategies, the concept of the good language learner, the ins and outs of strategy instruction, and finally the application of strategy instruction to areas such as pragmatics.  Then we will focus on a current venture – to create a website for learners of Spanish to go to in order to get strategies for mastering Spanish grammar.  The project (funded by our Language Resource Center at CARLA) involved the construction of a website with video- and audio-clips, Cyperpad notes, and other materials from successful learners regarding the grammar strategies they use, with the intention of supporting others in achieving greater control over problematic L2 grammar structures.  During the talk, we will access the website and explore some of its features.  The talk will end by considering the implications of this project for the development of a similar grammar-oriented website for ESL learners will be provided. 

Handout Workshop #3

Sponsor: Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
East Asian Languages
Department of Second Language Studies
Intensive English Program
Department of Linguistics
Department of Germanic Studies
Dept of African Studies
Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center
The Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program