Language and Sociocultural Theory, Vol 5, No 1 (2018)

Learning the sociopragmatics of an artificial language: Comparing rule-based and concept-based instruction

Rémi A. van Compernolle
Issued Date: 10 May 2018


This article reports findings from an experimental study of adults (n = 103) learning the sociopragmatics of an artificial language, ‘Ravenese’. The main purpose of the study was to compare the effects of: (a) rule-based instruction; versus (b) conceptbased instruction. No statistical differences were found between the two instructional conditions on an appropriateness judgment task (pretest, immediate posttest, and delayed posttest). However, differences were observed in participants’ understanding of the meaning and significance of the target pragmatic forms as revealed through qualitative data. The data suggest that rule-based instruction reinforces previously acquired everyday knowledge, whereas concept-based instruction supports learners’ development of new ways of understanding language and social relationships. The discussion centers on implications for teaching pragmatics in second/foreign language classrooms.

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DOI: 10.1558/lst.33770


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