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Pedagogic Principles in Digital Pragmatics Learning Materials: Learner Experiences and Perceptions ESL ELL CALL

Wain, Jennifer; Timpe-Laughlin, Veronika; Oh, Saerhim
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Pragmatics, English as a Second Language (ESL), English Language Learners (ELL), Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Design Principles, Task Design, Learning Materials, Workplace English, Words at Work


This study reports on the development and evaluation of a prototype for an interactive, self-access computer application titled Words at Work that was developed by the authors. Words at Work aims to raise adult English language learners’ (ELLs’) pragmatic awareness in the English-medium workplace. The study focuses in particular on the pedagogic principles of second-language (L2) instruction underlying the design of the computer-based learning environment and seeks to explore the perceived usefulness of computer-assisted language learning (CALL)–mediated L2 pragmatic instruction, responding to this overarching research question: To what extent do learners feel that Words at Work successfully operationalizes the principles of teaching L2 pragmatics as proposed in the research literature? Accordingly, we first review teaching principles for L2 pragmatics instruction and present an overview of existing standalone materials for L2 pragmatics learning and teaching. Then, we outline the development and design features of Words at Work, before presenting the findings of a usability study that was conducted with 19 adult ELLs. We found evidence that users desired immersive learning environments that incorporate authentic audiovisual input, personalized and immediate feedback, and extensive opportunities for interaction and self-reflection. Implications for the design of computer-mediated L2 pragmatic learning tools and tasks will be discussed both for instruction and assessment.

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