Pragmatics is usually defined as the study of how people use language in particular situations, contexts, and relationships. As classroom-based English teachers, if we are not simply teaching the textbook or teaching towards tests or exams, we may teach with some future possible situations in mind, and imagine various contexts for using English. These may include hosting students visiting from overseas, or studying abroad and having a homestay experience. We will start by considering how we can help meet some of these possible "distant" language needs. This will be followed by a focus on actual language needs for situations, contexts, and relationships in class – needs that may often be by-passed using Japanese or gestures. Thinking of these potential or real needs, we’ll try out a few activities for helping learners communicate better in and beyond the classroom. Finally, we will consider a principled approach to developing and using pragmatic activities in class.
Jim Ronald has been teaching English in Hiroshima for over 30 years, at Hiroshima YMCA then at Hiroshima Shudo University. His PhD was concerned with vocabulary acquisition and dictionary use, but his current teaching interests are mainly pragmatics and learner development. He is an active participant in the Pragmatics and Learner Development special interest groups within JALT.