VietTESOL International Convention, VietTESOL International Convention 2019

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Challenges in Designing L2 Pragmatics Assessment Instruments
Hanh Pham, Tho Xuan Pham

Building: Library
Room: D307
Date: 2019-10-12 09:35 AM – 10:05 AM
Last modified: 2019-09-20


The assessment of L2 learners’ pragmatics competence has a fairly short history for more than two decades with the first test battery created by Hudson, Detmer, and Brown in 1995 focusing on socio-pragmatic appropriateness of speech acts. The often theoretical definition of pragmatics in applied linguistics and language assessment literature is “meaning in context” or “language use in a social context” (Ross and Kasper, 2013). Led by the literature on context and user factors in pragmatics with reference to the distance, power, and imposition in Brown and Levinson’s (1987) framework, this project funded by Australia Awards Scholarship attempted to develop a small scale test comprising three types of assessment instruments in L2 speech acts: Role Play (RP), Discourse Completion Task (DCT), and Judgement Task (JT). This presentation starts by reviewing the key literature in L2 pragmatics assessment, sorts of instruments devised up-to-date and the strengths and weaknesses of each, and then report the actual stages in the designing process of the instruments along with insightful discussion. The process revealed the variation in native speakers’ answers to the pragmatic items designed in the test during the piloting stage, which suggests the essential role of the context, and more importantly, the role of users, i.e. how well the sign and its interpreters (users) are related. This, consequently, poses real challenges to L2 pragmatics test designers, especially in the era of globalization when English acts as a lingua franca


pragmatics assessment, discourse completion task, role play, judgement task