A pragmatic account of listenership : implications for foreign/second language teaching

Pilar Garcés Conejos, Patricia Bou Franch

Abstract

In our view, there is a general need to gain insights into what a listener does in linguistic interaction and to provide a comprehensive account of listenership from a pragmatic standpoint. This paper examines listener roles and processes in three aspects of communication: verbal understanding, verbal production and negotiation of meaning. Traditional views of communication are invariably speaker-centred and based on coding and decoding processes. This paper contains a critical review of these issues which are then related to foreign/second language teaching. Competent non-native speakers of a language should be able to both produce and interpret language correctly. We believe that social and cognitive pragmatic theories (Linguistic Politeness Theory and Relevance Theory) can be successfully applied to second language production and comprehension. Taking as our starting point Cauldwell’s (1998) caution to the effect that we need knowledge of what happens in real communication before thinking of methodologies to teach foreign languages, this paper reviews the three communicative processes of understanding, production and negotiation, and next addresses the main implications for the establishment of a theory-driven teaching methodology.

Keywords

Enseñanza de la lengua; Análisis de la conversación; Oyente; Interacción comunicativa; Segunda lengua



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2004.17.06