Pragmatic competence and social power awareness: The case of written and spoken discourse in non-native English environments
Following one of the new challenges suggested by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a treatment was developed to enhance pragmatic competence, since this competence is not easy to acquire by non-native speakers. Within this context, we focused on pragmatic awareness in the workplace, an area of expertise in growing demand today. Specifically, we centred on the power variable and the distinction between powerful and powerless speech styles through negotiation, co-planning and goal-oriented interactions. Powerful speech has been envisaged as the language of success; however, the positive implications of powerless speech in the workplace have been recently posited. After an instruction phase, the results confirmed that powerless markers were prone to be used adequately in writing, while in oral interactions non-native speakers were not able to employ them fluently or, at least, naturally. The treatment encouraged the critical engagement of students in the process of learning new ways of communicating at work.
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