Teaching the Pragmatics of Indonesian as a Foreign Language

    The NFLRC will develop materials, activities, and strategies for teaching the pragmatics of Indonesian as a foreign language (IFL). The project’s overall goal is two-pronged: improving the teaching of a particular foreign language, Indonesian, and developing approaches to the classroom learning of pragmatics which are applicable to other target languages as well. Indonesian is identified as the target language for this project because there are existing teaching materials which, although not primarily pragmatic in focus, the project can build on, and because Indonesian is a typical foreign language in Hawai‘i, affording students little contact with the language outside the classroom. Hence, we will be able to assess the effectiveness of various instructional measures in an authentic yet laboratory-type setting, in so far as uncontrolled learning outside the classroom will be minimized.

    Materials will include written texts and videos of relevant interactions in target contexts. Activities will include small group in-class tasks and role-plays supported by the videotaped and written materials, guided observations of videos and films outside class, and various forms of electronic communication (webchat, email) that can be used both inside and outside of class sessions. Teaching strategies will include implicit and explicit ways of teaching different aspects of Indonesian pragmatics, such as input enhancement, input flood, awareness raising, and metapragmatic explanation and discussion. The project aims at developing and piloting these types of materials, activities, and teaching approaches in order to assess which of them are most effective for different pragmatic aspects of IFL and students at different proficiency levels.

    The project will consist of the following components:

    • Collection of videotaped material of authentic interactions, in Indonesia, between native and nonnative speakers of Indonesian and between Indonesian native speakers. The collection of these two sets of material is necessary in order to identify the adjustments Indonesians make when talking to foreigners and to incorporate such adjustments in material for beginning learners. For more advanced learners, on the other hand, unadjusted native speaker input is required. As has been amply documented in the literature, target language input must be based on authentic data because even native speakers have little conscious awareness of the sociolinguistic, pragmatic, and discourse features that they regularly use. Pragmatic aspects to focus on will include greetings and terms of address; further aspects will be identified through the ongoing needs analysis.
    • Trial runs of use of video and electronic communication incorporating pragmatic aspects. This is primarily for trouble-shooting purposes and will take place in small groups inside and outside of IFL classes.
    • Development of materials, activities, and teaching strategies. How teaching approaches based on the Focus on Form principle (Doughty & Williams, 1998) can be transferred from the teaching of grammar to the teaching of pragmatics will be explored.
    • First and second year IFL classes at the University of Hawai‘i will participate in the project for the duration of the entire project. This extended period of observation and intervention will afford us the possibility of exploring teaching approaches effective for students at different levels of proficiency. Adopting a combined longitudinal and cross-sectional design affords better insights into students’ progress and decreases uncontrollable variation between groups to some extent. Students’ pragmatic ability will be assessed prior to instruction. During instruction, participant and non-participant observation will be conducted and smaller assessment activities will be carried out, followed by a more comprehensive post-test at the end of the semester, which will also be