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Indiana University Bloomington


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Upcoming conference at Indiana University, Bloomington:

Pragmatics and Language Learning, April 23-25, 2020







Keynote Speakers


Role Plays in L2 Pragmatics Research and Assessment

Steven Ross

University of Maryland

Role plays have long been a favored way of gathering evidence of a speakers’ second language pragmatic competence.   The advantage role-playing provides comes from it adaptability for specific contexualization and the fact that particular speech acts can be seeded within the role-play scenarios.  Further, socio-pragmatic factors can be inserted into role-play scenarios by assigning roles with different status or power to the participants.  An implicit assumption of role plays for proficiency assessment is that language learners have had enough exposure to a foreign/ second language to have acquired sufficient lexical or formulaic resources to go beyond transferring first language pragmatic formulae into the simulated interaction.  

 In this talk, a distinction will be drawn between role plays for research, for which the focus often diverges from speech act realization to indicators of interactional competence such as turn-taking, eye contact, listener response, pre-sequences, footing, and posture.  Role plays for research frequently identify features that are below the assessable facets of role plays for assessment, and can easily draw different inferences about speaker proficiency from those used in role plays for assessment.  Formal language proficiency assessments using role plays, especially the oral proficiency interview, have traditionally used holistic or impressionistic criteria for assessing role play performances. The focus of the talk will be on factors that can mediate the valid assessment of role-play performances, and will discuss the need for more fine-grained assessment criteria for assessment role plays with the ultimate goal of integrating role plays for research with role plays for assessment.

Pragmatic Development in Study Abroad: Recent Advances and New Directions

Rachel L. Shively
Illinois State University

Over two decades of research on second language (L2) pragmatic development in study abroad have shone a spotlight on the learning outcomes of a period spent studying in an L2-speaking region and the micro- and macro-level factors that can impact learning. Previous work indicates that many learners do, indeed, increase their pragmatic competence after a sojourn abroad and that gains are the result of a complex web of factors related to the pragmatic feature in question, input and interaction, and individual learner characteristics (e.g., Pérez Vidal & Shively, 2019). However, more research is needed in order to gain greater insights into and make generalizations about learning outcomes and the specific experiences that facilitate pragmatic development during study abroad.

This presentation will begin by discussing the current state of the field, highlighting recent trends, advances, and innovations. Then the presenter will outline new directions for research in four areas related to pragmatic development in study abroad: instructed pragmatics in study abroad; intercultural competence and pragmatic development; long-term impact of study abroad; and the role of programmatic variables. For each of these four strands, the presenter will identify key issues, questions, methods, and conceptual frameworks, and suggest how this focus can contribute new insights to the field.