Dina R. Yoshimi and Haidan Wang, Editors, 2007 Read paginated .pdf version
Read paginated .pdf version
Teaching the polite and the deferential speech levels using media materials: Advanced KFL classroom settings
Andrew Sangpil Byon
The application of media materials in teaching Korean pragmatic elements in Korean as a Foreign Language (KFL) classroom settings is still an underdeveloped research area. This paper explores how one can apply media materials to the teaching of Korean pragmatic elements in advanced KFL classroom settings.1 One can generate various teaching activities using televised media materials, such as television talk shows, dramas, news, and commercials. The focus of this paper is on teaching two Korean speech levels: the polite speech level (the yo form) and the deferential speech level (the supnita form) as well as the alternation between the speech levels, using two short video clips from Korean television talk shows.2 The video clips include a morning talk show presentation (3 minutes), and a multi-party interaction from a shopping channel show (3 minutes). Both clips were transcribed and subjected to an in-depth analysis of the participants' uses of the deferential speech level and the polite speech level.3 The paper addresses the following three issues:
The paper aims to raise KFL teachers' and researchers' awareness regarding the use of television media materials for teaching pragmatic elements. Although the case presented in this paper is about teaching the two speech levels, it is hoped that the instructional model presented and its pedagogical implications can be extended to teaching other pragmatic elements. In addition, it is hoped that the study may stimulate KFL teachers' and researchers' interest in this crucial dimension of KFL pedagogy.
The paper is organized in the following way. First, the paper discusses published findings in the literature regarding pragmatics-focused pedagogy and the instructional uses of media materials in KFL classroom contexts. Second, the paper proposes seven practical steps one can take when developing teaching activities from media materials. It then discusses the rationale for choosing the target elements, reviews relevant literature with respect to the target elements, and establishes the instructional points (e.g., "what to teach") based on data analysis of the given excerpts. Next, it discusses how one can develop several teaching activities using the media texts. It also explores various classroom assessment tools that can be used to evaluate and enhance the efficiency of the activities. In the final sections, the paper discusses the pedagogical implications of the findings, and then suggests directions for further research.
Pragmatic learning and teaching in KFL classrooms
Teaching pragmatic features in American college KFL classroom settings is still an underdeveloped research area when compared to teaching directed at developing a learner's grammatical competence or lexical knowledge (Byon, 2005). Among the research issues of those few existing studies are the teaching of Korean honorifics to American KFL students (e.g., Byon, 2000; 2004, Lee, 1997; Sohn, 2001; Wang, 1995), investigating American KFL students' pragmatic errors (e.g., Wang, 1999a), examining speech acts in Korean language textbooks (e.g., Choo, 1999; Wang, 1999b), teaching speech acts (Byon, 2005), and the use of discourse completion tasks (DCT) in raising pragmatic awareness in the KFL classroom context (Byon, 2006).
Byon (2004) investigates second-year KFL students' assessment of the pragmatic appropriateness of speech acts (e.g., with a focus on the appropriate use of honorific elements) and discusses pedagogical implications based on the findings. The study involved 30 KFL students (for listening tasks), and two KFL instructors (for interviews). The pragmatic listening task was as follows: the subjects listened to a sequence of three audio-taped request speech act situations, each followed by four choices of requests. After listening to each situation, the subjects were prompted to listen to four audio-taped possible request forms, which were played three times, and then to judge the most appropriate request among the four choices in each given context. They were asked to judge the most appropriate request according to the referential content of the message, the social meaning (e.g., indicated by the level of honorifics used), and the pragmatic meaning (e.g., directness). The study reports that the KFL students were able to identify the correct response 73.3% of the time and notes five possible reasons for learners' incorrect responses: 1) misjudging the use of the appropriate speech level; 2) difficulty in recognizing euphemistic verbs; 3) failure to use the honorific suffix in addressing a familiar professor; 4) different perceptions regarding the appropriate level of directness in speech acts; 5) lack of knowledge regarding Korean honorifics. Moreover, the study identifies a) the KFL instructors' lack of awareness regarding the need to teach KFL pragmatic elements and b) the grammar-oriented instructional goals of the KFL curriculum as two factors that need to be re-addressed in order to enhance current KFL pragmatic teaching. Although Byon's study is interesting, its pedagogical insights are limited to understanding KFL students' pragmatic ability (e.g., the ability to assess the appropriateness of a speech act based on the proper knowledge of honorifics), resulting from previous classroom language learning. It does not offer practical guidelines regarding teaching directed at developing learner pragmatic ability (e.g., the use of honorifics).
The studies by Choo (1999) and Wang (1999b) concern textbook analysis for pragmatic teaching and learning. Choo (1999) examines four major existing Korean textbooks and identifies several shortcomings with respect to the presentation of Korean pragmatic elements (e.g., speech levels): the textbooks do not reflect changes in Korean culture and society appropriately. Moreover, the materials often fail to provide background information about the situations being modeled, such as the identities of the participants involved, their status, and other sociolinguistic variables. After reviewing ten KFL textbooks at the beginning and intermediate level, Wang (1999b) reports similar findings: the speech acts presented in the texts do not reflect the content and variability of naturally occurring discourses.
Byon's (2005; 2006) recent studies are noteworthy in that they more directly address instructional issues of pragamtics in KFL classroom settings. For instance, Byon (2005) addresses the issues associated with teaching speech acts to KFL students, offering practical guidelines. Asserting that teaching speech acts is one of the best ways to infuse a structural syllabus with cultural knowledge in action and to raise students' motivation, the author discusses several approaches to teaching speech acts (e.g., refusals) for KFL classroom contexts: 1) analysis and explicit presentation of a target speech act; 2) teaching receptive skills; 3) student project approach; and 4) productive skill approach (teacher-guided and controlled). Byon (2006) investigates a case of raising awareness of the pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic dimensions of Korean speech acts among intermediate KFL students in an American university using a discourse completion task (DCT). The study shows that the DCT provided a very practical tool for enabling KFL students to recognize the pragmatic features of speech acts. Although it is encouraging to see the gradual but steadily growing number of KFL studies that address teaching and learning pragmatic features in KFL classroom settings, more studies are still needed on this crucial aspect of KFL pedagogy.
The use of media materials in KFL instruction
The benefits of using authentic media materials in second language (L2) education have been well supported in existing L2 studies (e.g., see Brinton, 1991 for more detail). Their pedagogical value has been acknowledged in Korean language classroom settings as well (Park, 1997). However, the number of studies that address the issues of using media materials, such as films and television programs, in Korean language classroom settings is relatively low (Lee, 1999). The topics of those limited studies include television commercials (e.g., Strauss, 1999; Wang, 2000), television drama scripts (Ahn, 2001), films (Lee, 1999), and Korean language education programs on television (Choi, Chang, Kim, & Chae, 2005).
Strauss (1999) argues for the value of using television commercials for KFL education: "television commercials, by virtue of their simplicity in structure and their creative use of language, can indeed be developed into extremely effective supplementary teaching materials" (p. 236). She also maintains that commercials can provide a rich source of linguistic (e.g., vocabulary, grammar, speech styles, and pragmatic features) as well as cultural input (e.g., both covert and overt cultural elements). By offering a number of sample learning activities, Wang (2000) explores how commercials can be exploited for KFL language and culture education. Lee (1999) examines the instructional advantages of using films in Korean language classroom contexts, listing the following benefits of using films:
Ahn (2001) analyzes two types of naturally occurring spoken texts (e.g., formal spoken texts and informal television drama scripts). She investigates the types of cohesive devices, used in each text and how each text differs in terms of the devices used and their frequency of use. Her paper discusses the pedagogical implications of the findings. However, as the focus of the investigation is primarily on the use of Korean cohesive devices, the paper does not offer more general tangible instructional implications. Choi et al. (2005) review major Korean language education television shows in terms of their contents, arrangement, and pedagogical perspectives. In addition, they discuss what needs to be done to enhance the quality and instructional efficiency of those shows.
While these studies all maintain the benefits of using televised media materials for KFL pedagogy, only a handful of studies (e.g., Lee, 1999; Wang, 2000) offer practical instructional models (e.g., sample learning activities). More needs to be done in order to understand the full benefits and instructional roles of media materials for KFL education. This is particularly true for using television materials to teach Korean pragmatic elements. For instance, to this date, there has been no single published KFL study that investigates how to teach the speech levels using Korean televised media materials. To fill this void, the current study explores possible instructional models and proposes the following practical steps one can take to utilize television media materials for teaching pragmatic elements.
The rest of the paper is devoted to elaborating the above seven steps by applying them to teaching the target elements.
Deciding on the target speech levels
There has been disagreement among grammarians on the number of speech levels that should be recognized in Korean and on the hierarchical ordering of those levels. Some scholars propose six levels (Martin, 1964; Sohn, 1988, 1994, 1999), others five (Lee, 1970), or four (Hwang, 1975), or two (Suh, 1984). Despite the disagreement, it is the six-level system of sentence endings (adopted from Sohn, 1994, p. 8) that receives the most support.
Table 1. Korean speech levels
The target pragmatic features chosen for exemplification in this paper are the polite speech level (or the yo form) and the deferential speech level (or the supnita form).
The reason for choosing these two speech levels is twofold. First, in both informal and formal conversations, alternation between these speech levels commonly takes place (except in certain contexts such as news broadcasting). As the use of the two speech levels is influenced by socio-contextual factors (e.g., the formality of the situation, and social variables such as power and distance between interlocutors) as well as metalinguistic features (e.g., the information status of referential messages), learning which speech level to use and when is a daunting task for KFL learners. Television materials can be developed into excellent teaching materials, since they can provide the the teachers and learners with naturally occurring linguistic data as well as full socio-contextual information associated with the use of the target language features. The second rationale derives from the scarcity of the KFL studies that investigate the instruction of scarcity of KFL studies that investigate the instruction of this crucial aspect of KFL language use.
Reviewing the literature on the target speech levels4
The polite speech level (hereafter the yo form), the most commonly used speech level among the six levels, is broadly used in any situation where polite language is called for (Lee & Ramsey, 2000). Sohn (1999) notes that Koreans use the yo form when addressing someone of senior status in casual, non-formal, and everyday types of conversations. On the other hand, the deferential speech level (hereafter the supnita form), the formal counterpart of the yo form, is used for public or formal discourse: "The deferential style is used when addressing the public or by a junior person to a senior person and serves to index a formal conversational setting" (Lukoff, 1982, p. 170-172). Lee & Ramsey (2000) remark that what distinguishes the supnita form from the yo form lies in the degree of formality that the supnita form generates. Sohn (1994) also observes that the supnita form is used predominantly by male speakers.
Despite the seemingly clear distinctions between these two forms, the alternation of these two speech levels does occur in both informal and formal situations: "Both the polite and deferential levels are used to a social equal or superior person, but in general, the polite level is favored between close persons. Even in a formal conversational situation, the deferential and polite levels are usually intermixed by the same interlocutors in the same discourse" (Sohn, 1994, p. 10). The use of the yo form generates an effect of making a dialogue sound less formal, even in formal conversational contexts. The use of either form depends on "the feel of the situation and the atmosphere that one wishes to convey" (Lee & Ramsey, 2000, p. 261).
While these studies account for the differences between the two speech levels and the alternations between the levels in terms of various contextual factors (e.g., social status, degree of intimacy between interlocutors, formality level, and type of discourse), Eun & Strauss (2004) and Strauss & Eun (2005) propose an alternative interpretation regarding the use of these two speech levels, analyzing naturally occuring talk in an oral discourse corpus. They discuss the discourse-functional use of these two speech levels and their mixed uses in terms of "the status of information" (2004) and "the semantic features of +/- boundary" (2005). For instance, Eun & Strauss (2004) assert that the yo form is used with shared or otherwise known, common sense notions, or information that is being repeated to the interlocutor. The supnita form is used with new or non shared information to the addressee; the supnita form is used to introduce and/or frame people, topics, and upcoming activities in less formulaic discourse genres. According to the study, information status is the primary factor behind the use of the deferential form and is also sometimes a factor in the use of the polite form in Korean discourse.
Strauss & Eun (2005) interprets the alternating use of the speech levels based on the semantic features of the forms. They argue that the alternation between the yo form and the supnita form bears a strong relationship with the concept of boundary:
That is, when the speakers use the deferential form (+BOUNDARY), they index a stance of EXCLUSION with the interlocutor, such that the interlocutor is positioned as outside the sphere of the speaker's cognitive and/or experiential domains; discourse marked with the deferential form is thus framed as detached, objective, and authoritative. In contrast, when speakers use the polite form (-BOUNDARY), they index a stance of INCLUSION. Essentially then, the deferential form creates bounded distance between speaker and addressee, while the polite form establishes and/or reinforces common ground (Strauss & Eun, 2005, p. 611).
Summary of the analysis
Having reviewed the literature, one is ready to analyze the given materials and arrange possible instructional points. The following teaching points were developed based on the data analysis (see Appendixes A and B for the entire transcribed data):
Developing teaching activities
The following activities are designed for advanced intermediate KFL classes or above, and/or undergraduate Korean linguistics courses.7 In addition, since questions of grammaticality are not relevant during this instruction (e.g., the use of either level does not render the sentence ungrammatical), the primary pedagogical goal is to raise students' pragmatic awareness regarding the use of these two forms.
Receptive skills. The following activities are designed to enhance the students' ability to recognize and understand the use of the target forms. One can take either a deductive approach or an inductive approach.
Deductive approach. When teaching deductively, teachers first give an explicit presentation (e.g., lecture) regarding the aforementioned properties of the target elements. Then, they distribute the presentation handouts and explain how the target elements are used in context. For instance, consider the following sample segment, adapted from the given material:
Here in line 41, Joseph uses the supnita form to introduce a new topic, "laughter". In line 43, Joseph emphasizes the meaning by shifting the speech levels. Teachers can explain that the supnita form is used for new information, introducing topics, and sequence framing, whereas the yo form is used with shared or otherwise known information. In addition, the teacher can point out the use of yo form that appears after -e (in line 43 and 49) whose indexical meaning is assertion.
After the explicit instruction, the teacher shows the video clips, presenting the patterns in context. A follow-up activity can be designed to direct the students to practice the dialogues in groups or pairs. (See Appendix C for more sample presentation handouts for the deductive teaching approach.)
Inductive approach. When using an inductive approach, teachers can distribute the activity handouts to the class and have students circle which form they think is a better choice. For instance, consider the following sample activity handout for the following teaching points:
Then, students discuss their choices in groups or pairs and list their reasons for their choices. Next, the teacher shows the video clip and explains the aforementioned properties of the two forms. (See Appendix D for more sample activity handouts.)
Productive skills: Cloze-type exercises. Cloze-type exercises can enhance the students' ability to produce the target forms. In a cloze-type exercise, students are given a series of conversations with the target elements deleted.8 Students can complete the blanks with the correct speech level ending either orally or in written form. The following is a sample cloze-type practice developed from the materials.
After completion of the task, students can engage in group or pair activity where they discuss their choices. Then, the teacher shows the video clip and explains the properties of the two forms. Since the use of either level is grammatical, the teacher's follow-up feedback is essential in explaining why a certain level is preferred over the other.
Developing classroom assessment tools
In order to assess and ensure the efficiency of the teaching activities, one can use various classroom assessment techniques (CATs). CATs are closely related to the educational practice called "feedback" (Carduner, 2002), in which teachers collect information from their students regarding the effectiveness of instruction, learning processes, affective stances, and any other reactions relevant to instructional content. In addition, CATs provide students with evidence that the teachers care about learning, and help them develop self-assessment and learning management skills as well as the ability to change study strategies if needed. The use of CATs should be viewed as a formative process (Carduner, 2002), rather than a summative process, such as in the evaluation of students' performance for grading purposes, in that the primary benefits of CATs come into play when the feedback collected from students is used to adapt the teaching to better meet students' needs (Black & William, 1998).
Typically CATs, such as One-Sentence Summary, Minute Paper, and Feedback Form, are used to collect brief personal reactions from students usually immediately following a particular lesson. For instance, in the case of using the One-Sentence Summary and Minute Paper the teacher ends the class a few minutes early and asks students to write down their responses.
Please summarize what you have learned today in one or two sentences:
The responses can be what they think they learned and/or still do not understand regarding a particular lesson (Minute Papers), or it can be a brief summary of the lesson (One-Sentence Summary). These data provide constructive feedback to the instructor so that he/she can reflect on his/her own teaching and also evaluate students' learning processes.
Teacher-designed Feedback Forms are administered to obtain responses to very specific questions regarding the effectiveness of a lesson, and/or particular instructional materials or approaches. The following are sample feedback forms.
1. Did you like cloze-type practices? How would you rate this activity for increasing your knowledge in the use of yo form and the supnita form? Circle one number and give any comments if you have them:
2. Would you recommend these activities to others who are learning Korean speech levels? Would you make any suggestions to improve the activities if you were to do them again? If yes, or no, please explain how much and why.
Sample  is a feedback form, designed to assess students' reactions regarding the instructor's teaching. The results can help instructors reflect on their own teaching so that they can enhance their teaching skills. In addition, Sample  is a feedback form (e.g., end of the term questionnaire) that can help teachers assess the effectiveness of a certain activity by collecting students' reactions.
The proposals in this paper have the following three pedagogical implications. The first implication is about teaching materials. Lack of authenticity has been noted as a main drawback of foreign language teaching texts and even teacher-generated materials (Judd, 1999). For instance, many L2 texts do not include examples of speech acts that represent naturally occurring discourses, and materials created by teachers often suffer from the same shortcomings as published texts (Tomlinson, 1998). This is true for KFL education as well (Choo, 1999; Wang, 1999b). To fill this gap, the use of media materials, such as television shows, films, dramas, and commercials can be particularly beneficial for KFL pedagogical contexts. The exploitation of media materials may provide the teachers and students with more natural and authentic language data (Holmes & Brown, 1987). The second is related to "what to teach." This paper asserts that explicit instruction on Korean speech levels should be strengthened even in the High Advanced Korean class. In addition, it highlights the importance of metalinguistic factors (e.g., information status, formality of the situation, and social variables such as the power relationship and social distance between interlocutors) in teaching speech levels.
The third implication is about "how to develop teaching activities from media materials." The instructional activities presented above were developed from two short video clips from television talk shows. However, one can apply the principles used to design these activities for other types of media materials. For instance, since the two video clips were full of alternations between speech levels, which is common for television talk show settings, they were inappropriate for generating activities for teaching the target features for different contexts (e.g., situations where a single speech level is preferred). However, one can take the same approach to developing cloze-type exercises using other media materials, such as dramas, films, and TV news. Consider the following sample exercises:
Sample  is an activity handout for inductive teaching on speaking within an informal setting. In this context, the use of the polite speech level is expected. The teacher provides the contextual information to the student prior to distributing the handout. The teacher explains that the two persons in the context are colleagues or acquaintances who discuss what to order in a Korean restaurant. The teacher notes that there are linguistic cues in the conversation that indicate some degree of informality in the conversation. The cues include address-terms used (e.g., calling the other by her first name, such as Sunae, with -ssi "Ms." in the first line) and the use of elliptical sentences and hedges, such as -nuntey and -ketun.
Sample  is a cloze-type exercise for a formal setting, where the use of the deferential speech level is preferred. The teacher provides the contextual information to the students before having them complete the handout. For instance, the teacher explains that the use of deferential speech level is expected during business negotiations.
Sample  is a cloze-type exercise for the mixed use of speech levels in the context of a service encounter. The teacher provides the contextual information to the student prior to distributing the handout. The teacher explains that the dialog on the handout is a conversation between a hotel guest and a front desk agent. The teacher further adds that the use of the deferential speech level is expected for the service agent, while both the informal speech level and the deferential speech level can be expected for the guest.
Notice that these three sample exercises deal with interactions that are regular parts of the lives of Koreans (e.g., colleagues, travelers, and/or business people). The interactions are unremarkable in that anyone in a similar situation might behave in a similar manner, and these models are readily available in media materials such as films and/or dramas.
This study addressed teaching pragmatic elements using television and other media materials. The focus of discussion was on teaching the polite speech level, the deferential speech level, and the alternation between the speech levels. The study also explored various classroom assessment tools that can be used to evaluate and enhance the efficiency of the activities. The activities developed and presented in this paper are by no means the only pedagogical applications one can draw from media materials. They are just part of an initial attempt to explore the potential instructional benefits of media materials for teaching pragmatic elements. More studies are certainly needed to consider further the pedagogical implications of using media materials as the basis for the development of instructional materials. However, it is hoped that this study will stimulate KFL teachers' and researchers' interests and awareness regarding the use of media materials in teaching pragmatic elements.
The following topics are subject to further study. First, the implementation of the aforementioned activities in actual KFL classroom settings is worth pursuing. Reports on the reactions of teachers and/or students regarding the effectiveness of the activities, including the difficulties and/or benefits they report while adopting and executing the activities, may help others become aware of the shortcomings and merits of the activities. Second, studies that investigate the use of multi-media materials in teaching other speech levels (e.g., the plain and intimate speech levels) are worth pursuing. Finally, teaching discourse-pragmatic elements using media materials appears to be more adaptable and appropriate for advanced KFL learners. A certain level of proficiency is required to participate in and/or carry out some of the aforementioned activities. However, the instructional application of media materials is by no means limited to advanced students. One should be able to find media materials that may suit lower level students as well (e.g., those media programs that have less specialized lexical use with more non-verbal communication). Studies that investigate how one can teach pragmatic elements with media materials in other proficiency levels (e.g., elementary or intermediate) are worth pursuing.
1. This is a revised and expanded version of my manuscript, presented at the 15th Annual Japanese/Korean Linguistics Pre-Conference Workshop in October, 2005 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
2. The Yale romanization system was used to transliterate the Korean utterances in this paper.
3. The video clips are from the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) at Penn State University. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Susan Strauss and CALPER for their permission to use the data.
4. Deriving instructional points from the given materials by conducting a discourse analysis of these materials may not be a feasible task for those KFL teachers who are inexperienced or untrained in discourse analysis. Conducting a literature review is essential in that the findings of previous studies may assist the KFL teachers in analyzing the corpus and thereby better appreciating the instructional value of given materials.
5. Some indexical meanings of these clause-endings are as follows: hay-se [reason/cause], ha-nikka [reason], hayss-kwu [exclamation/realization], hayss-nuntey [hedge], hayss-ketun [hedge], inka [wonder/questions], ul-kka [wonder/question].
6. The following abbreviations are used to label the linguistic terms employed in this paper:
7. The target proficiency level of KFL students has to be above the advanced intermediate (e.g., beyond the second year level), considering the scope of these learning points as well as the fact that students must be able to understand the content of the materials to a certain degree in order to benefit from the instruction.
8. Students may find participating in the productive skill activities more challenging than in the receptive skill activities. Consequently, receptive skill activities should precede cloze-type practices.
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Appendix C: Sample presentation handouts for deductive teaching approach
Appendix D: Sample activities for inductive teaching