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Learning Pragmatics from EFL Algerian Textbooks: Miles to go and promises to keep


The present paper aims to study the amount of pragmatic information that Algerian EFL textbooks at college level provide to learners. The comparative qualitative and quantitative study between four (04) Algerian EFL textbooks and other four ones meant for international marketsthat of Headway Oxford - was carried so that to determine the amount of information and realistic language included. This analysis proved that the data in Algerian textbooks is judged not enough to arise learners awareness and fail to highlight NSs norms of appropriateness. There is a discrepancy between the speech acts and routine formulas used most frequently by NSs and those introduced in the textbooks. Learners have thus limited range language to perform certain speech acts. This renders our learners unable to react appropriately to situations where discourse is highly pragmatically loaded. In such circumstances, they often draw from their own sociocultural background transferring some of their L1 pragmatic features (Algerian Arabic) to L2. This transfer seems to impede learners success in achieving full convergence of meaning when conversing with native speakers. Furthermore, this may- in certain circumstances- cause cultural misunderstanding and by the same token, embarrassment to the parties involved in the interaction. INTRODUCTION

What follows is a qualitative and quantitative study of 8 EFL textbooks to determine the amount and quality of pragmatic information, and by the same token the amount of realistic language, included. The terms qualitative and quantitative are used at their face value to mean data collection procedures that result primarily in numerical and non- numerical data analysed by statistical and non-statistical methods (Drnyei, 2007:16). Relying on former model/research done on pragmatic information in textbooks (Vellenga, 2004), the current research was done to see how much relevant pragmatic information in included in English language textbooks in Algeria and in particular those designed for middle classes learners: College dEnseignement Moyen (Spotlight) textbook series. Pragmatic information is defined according to the framework set by Vallenga (ibid) and encompasses: a)- Politeness, appropriateness of use, register and cultural information. b)- Metalanguage c)- Speech act information This research was done by comparing the Algerian textbooks to other EFL textbooks of the same levels and conceived for the global, international market (Headway Oxford) series first published in 1995 and reprinted in 1997. What could be said so far as this selection is concerned, one can claim that in both series there is a focus on general communication in English. The eight books used in this analysis are mentioned below:

Algerian EFL textbooks Spotlight One Spotlight Two Spotlight Three On the move

Headway Oxford EFL textbooks Headstart (Beginner) Headway (Elementary) Headway (Pre-intermediate) Headway (Intermediate)

Research Methodology The broad aims of the investigation described in this paper stem from insights emerging from pragmatics and interlanguage pragmatics over the last few decades. It is based on a belief that current classroom materials could benefit from being informed by a language as discourse approach, which enables us to be more faithful to what language is and what people use it for (Mc Carthy and Carter 1994: 201). It would seem that the best way to remain true to what language is and how it is used by real people in real contexts would be to exploit authentic materials in the classroom and to highlight relevant features of the language from these texts. But this is all theory the recommendations of applied linguists hunched over their computers in cramped university offices. The research here is said to be primary since it is derived from the primary source, the EFL textbooks in this case. It is, in fact, of a statistical type. Though it is acknowledged by many researchers that it is not necessary the best type (Brown, J.D. 1988:5), it can provide us with important information related to relevancy, warranty, and authenticity as defined in this work on the textbooks that we are dealing with. Textbooks Analysis Once the textbooks identified, Spotlight : Spotlight 1, Spotlight 2, Spotlight 3 and On the Move), and the Headway Oxford textbooks: Headstart (Beginner), Headway (Elementary), Headway (Pre-intermediate) and Headway (Intermediate) were identified, the quantity of information in each was noted to see whether any textbook is markedly longer than the others. Comparison of the number of pages and files (not units for Spotlight) the approach adopted is said to be competency-based- was used to see if the selected textbooks are similar in length and in files. The table below shows the details of pages and files/units in each textbook.