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Bibliographic Information

Showing politeness and knowing appropriate, polite behavior is trendy.

Culture and Language Learning

Nevertheless, the rising number of publications in the non-scholarly field is a good indicator of the recently increased interest in the subject of politeness cf. Ehrhardt,Neuland As there is an increase in the number of the academic essays published on the topic of politeness as well, the academic interest in the subject is obvious, too cf.

Spyridoula et al. In order to be able to display proficient communicative competence, it seems obvious that a student needs advanced abilities regarding language use practical linguistic competence in the fields of syntax, morphology and phonology. Interkulturelle Kompetenz umfasst mehr als Wissen und mehr als eine Technik. So, according to the curriculum, their orientational knowledge, their ability to deal with cultural differences and their ability to practically handle intercultural situations make up the intercultural competence of younger language learners.

Thus, it could be argued that intercultural competence is a form of communicative competence — but on an intercultural level. Since both competences demand the ability of the speaker to engage in fluent discourse with an interlocutor, realizing speech acts in a socially acceptable manner, it is obvious that the two competencies — communicative competence and intercultural competence - are interlinked.

To display intercultural competence the language learner must, firstly, be able to use the foreign language with such a proficiency that he or she can communicate with an interlocutor fluently and in a socially acceptable manner communicative competence in order to, secondly, use the language in the intercultural sphere, speaking to an interlocutor from a foreign culture, knowing and reflecting on foreign cultural behavior and conversational standards intercultural competence. In the CEFR, politeness is broadly understood as an aspect of linguistic behavior with consequences for a social self and for social relations.

The descriptive categories of the CEFR for general competences and for communicative language competences - including politeness — are summarized as follows:. In principle, the CEFR subdivides intercultural communicative competence into general competences and communicative language competences. The general competences span from declarative, sociocultural knowledge of the world to practical intercultural skills, know-how and existential competences attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.

It is obvious that with this conceptualization the CEFR gives a very genuine and profound overview of which qualifications and partial competences are needed for true intercultural communicative competence. This is why the given framework should act as a guideline for what should be part of the teaching of intercultural communicative competence, also in this essay. However, the emphasis will be placed on the teaching of sociolinguistic and pragmatic competences, mainly since the declarative knowledge of culture, practical skills and know-how general competences as well as linguistic competences are what is taught already, whereas the teaching of the pragmatic and sociolinguistic aspects of language only plays a minor role in the EFL-classroom.

Table of Contents

This is evident in language classes or in foreign language teaching textbooks, which rarely address the field of politeness as a form of discourse competence distinctly cf. Scialdone Additionally, there has been relatively little research on the teaching of politeness cf. One focus will be on how foreign language students are - or could be - instructed to perform speech acts that accomplish action through language and therefore usually require forms of politeness.


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Teaching politeness will not be reduced to the introduction of cultural stereotypes and basic rules of behavior in language teaching, it will rather be understood as all forms of pragmatic knowledge that are necessary to develop true intercultural communicative competence in the foreign language student. In this essay, it is argued that currently teaching pragmatics only plays a minor role in foreign language teaching.

To prove this thesis, four current textbooks for teaching English as a foreign language will be examined with regard to teaching activities that include aspects of foreign language pragmatics or politeness. The view will not be limited to teaching English as a foreign language, but examples from teaching German, French or Italian as a foreign language will be considered, too. All the considerations made in this essay can also be applied to foreign language teaching in general, not only to teaching foreign languages at German schools.

Politeness and Culture in Second Language Acquisition

It can be debated how and to what extent teaching pragmatics is part of current foreign language teaching and learning. The given scenario is ambiguous for the student since, one the one hand, Sophie is her own age, a peer and the friend of a friend but, on the other hand, a person whom she has not met before. Although Susan seems to realize the potential importance of age and the relationship between Sophie and her male friend, which is also underlined by her uncertainty when deciding which form to choose indicated by pauses and stress , she reverts to her default choice of respectful address, because she does not actually know what to do in the situation.

True intercultural communicative competence would, however, enable the student to always know the right forms of address in a foreign language, ideally not only by applying basic rules, but by reflecting on and autonomously modifying them according to the communicative situation. Another example of an incorrect use of language that contains the intercultural aspect I was able to observe myself: After finishing school, a fellow student of mine went to the United States to work as a babysitter.

This lack of knowledge on the grammatical but also on the pragmatic level led to a rather grave demotion of the baby who, in this case, on language level was represented as non-human. True intercultural communicative competence would, however, enable the learner to know about such differences and customs in foreign language use. Those examples illustrate how a lack of knowledge in language use can lead to unintentionally impolite behavior when conversing in a foreign language.

Maria Paola Scialdone from the university of Macerata argues that cases like these, where students fail to show intercultural communicative competence, result from insufficient education in the field of sociolinguistics and pragmatics.

Politeness Strategies in Remindings

She argues that especially in language teaching textbooks the topic of politeness is treated poorly In her study, she analyzes German-Italian DaF German as a foreign language textbooks, showing that the teaching activities directly addressing the topic of politeness therein are rather superficial, simply giving blueprints and basic rules for polite behavior in certain social situations on two to three pages each , f.

Apart from Maria Scialdone, other scholars also argue that the main reason for insufficient pragmatic competences lies in poor education see: Birk , Spyridoula et al. To test this hypothesis, examples from four frequently-used current English as a foreign language textbooks from German schools will be examined to determine whether and how instructional pragmatics are incorporated there. Harry Potter.

Politeness and Culture in Second Language Acquisition | SpringerLink

Popular Features. New Releases. Politeness and Culture in Second Language Acquisition. Description This book examines the importance of politeness in pragmatic expression and communication, making a significant contribution to the debate over whether the universal politeness theory is applicable globally regardless of cultural differences. Product details Format Hardback pages Dimensions x x Illustrations note X, p. Her research focuses on sociolinguistics and second language acquisition, particularly the relationship between language and culture in the context of politeness.

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