The assessment process as real-life performance: Rethinking assessment of pragmatic instruction in the Japanese EFL classroom

B. Bricklin Zeff


Studies on the effectiveness of pragmatic teaching involve students answering multiple choice questions based on scenarios presented, finishing discourse completion tests (DCTs) that describe a situation and require students to write possible responses (Kim, 2007), or demonstrating ability through role-plays in a classroom environment. Although the assessment strategies used by Takimoto (2009b) and others (e.g. Ishihara, 2011) to document the impact of pragmatics instruction in the Japanese classroom are efficient, they lack the capacity to both measure the application and the transferability as demonstrated in real-life settings. The study reported here addressed these gaps by creating and testing an applied performance test whereby Japanese English learners cooperated in the negotiation and structure of verbal encounters in the target language. The assessment process involved creating a situation where greetings were necessary to avoid an impolite or socially uncomfortable experience and using a rubric for assessing how students managed the speech act exchange. The results demonstrate that the test enabled the Japanese students to demonstrate their competence in using American English greetings, especially an introductory greeting in a lifelike setting. Feedback from participants also suggests that the test provided a meaningful learning experience and an increase in metacognitive awareness.



pragmatics; speech acts; greetings; assessment; EFL; Japan

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