Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Teaching culture: is it possible to avoid pragmatic failure?

Lucía Fernández Amaya



The main purpose of learning a second language is communication. Nevertheless, many students are surprised when they realise that, in spite of having a perfect dominion of the L2 grammar rules, they have difficulties at interpersonal level when establishing a conversation with native speakers. Thus, pragmatics constitutes a fundamental element of language ability for L2 learners. However, L2 teachers often overlook pragmatics, due to the difficulty of its teaching, and instead focus on the grammatical aspects of language. The resulting lack of pragmatic competence on the part of L2 students can lead to pragmatic failure and, more importantly, to a complete communication breakdown. In this paper, several examples are used to illustrate how pragmatic failures affect the interpretation of messages and sometimes block communication completely, thus defeating the principal purpose of L2 acquisition. Finally, guidance is provided to encourage teachers to incorporate the necessary pragmatic and cultural aspects of L2 learning into their lessons in order to prevent students from making these types of mistakes.


Enseñanza de la lengua; Segunda lengua; Pragmática; Comunicación intercultural


Copyright (c) 2008 Lucía Fernández Amaya

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