Assessing the effectiveness of a web-based tutorial for interlanguage pragmatic development prior to studying abroad
This manuscript reports the results of a research study that investigated the effect of a web-based tutorial (WBT) on 13 Spanish language learners’ pragmatic development during the semester prior to studying abroad in Spain. Students who anticipate living abroad with a host family may be particularly motivated to acquire pragmatic competence in order to better assimilate into the target language culture. The WBT was designed to teach the speech acts of complaints and requests to Spanish language learners whose first language is English. The content in the WBT is based upon available empirical evidence at the time of development. Data were collected at pretest and posttest and the analysis employed a mixed methods approach. The results revealed that the WBT was more effective with intermediate- than with novice-level learners of Spanish. In addition, learners’ comprehension gains were greater than their production gains. In other words, learners improved in their ability to recognize appropriate pragmatic strategy use; however, they still had difficulty producing pragmatically appropriate features after completing the WBT. It is possible that pragmatic awareness may precede learners’ ability to use appropriate pragmatic strategies in their linguistic output.