The present study has revealed significant findings which have some important implications for EFL teachers, policy makers, and software developers. The current research has introduced how different types of online resources would contribute to the learners’
development of pragmatic competence. The findings revealed that teacher-led fully online pragmatics instruction through CMC had a positive impact on the learners’ pragmatic performance. Thus, we can interpret that EFL teachers can benefit from CMC potentialities to introduce pragmatics outside of official class hours when the textbooks or curriculum failed to cover pragmatics sufficiently. At times like the Covid-19 pandemic, learners and teachers cannot come together for educational purposes. All teachers and students globally had to move to virtual environments. The current research showed that synchronous CMC can be a useful instruction tool to introduce pragmatics at such times.
However, pragmatics instruction through CMC comes with its own issues. With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, many studies focused on the challenges of remote teaching. In Civelek, Toplu and Uzun’s study (2021), lack of interaction in remote teaching, inadequacy of remote teaching tools, students’ demotivation to attend online sessions were listed as some of the major reasons behind EFL teachers’ negative perceptions for online teaching. It is no surprise that teachers regarded lack of interaction as an obstacle of online instruction when they adopted a teacher-centered teaching approach in which teachers provide information and learners are passive listeners. In order to overcome such obstacles, the present study coupled CMC-based instruction with other Web 2.0 tools such as Nearpod, Padlet, Canva, and Wordwall. Combining CMC-based instruction with other Web 2.0 tools may partly have been the reason behind the learners’ significant improvement of the pragmalinguistic and the sociopragmatic test scores, since Web 2.0 tools such as Nearpod and Padlet offered every learner equal opportunities for participation in each activity. Thus, it can be recommended for teachers to combine CMC with other web 2.0 tools to create a more interactive, engaging, and student-centered learning environment. In addition, the content of the activities being completely about WAT program might have resulted in learners’ increased motivation to complete the tasks.
The results of the present research reported that self-paced learning can be useful as well to enhance learners’ pragmatic performance. The internet potentialities provide teachers with a lot of Web 2.0 tools enabling them to prepare digitally-mediated self-access materials for their learners. Inadequate pragmatic language input and output opportunities are considered as major challenges for pragmatic development in EFL classrooms (El-Okda, 2011; Washburn, 2001). However, digitally-mediated self-access materials can be useful to expand the learning of pragmatics beyond the traditional language classroom. The present research showed how digitally-mediated self-access materials can be effective to provide learners with metapragmatic explanations, and opportunities for authentic language input and practice. EFL teachers should be encouraged to use such materials as assignment to widen input and output opportunities or to deliver pragmatics instruction if the curriculum unsatisfactorily presents pragmatic phenomena.
However, preparation of such materials requires an adequate level of theoretical knowledge about pragmatics, computer literacy as well as knowledge about materials development for pragmatics instruction. Based on the findings of semi-structured interviews, providing learners with sufficient practice opportunities, offering feedback, enriching the contents with audiovisual input, including realistic situations that students are likely to experience, and sequencing activities from easy to complex can be listed as some of the features teachers should consider while preparing such materials. Due to the underrepresentation of pragmatics in EFL textbooks (Ishihara, 2011; Ren & Han, 2016; Vellenga, 2004), university-level courses such as Materials Adaptation can include how to develop materials to introduce pragmatic aspects of the language apart from the pragmatics-related courses. Additionally, Civelek et al. (2021) suggested equipping prospective English language teachers with the tools to increase the quality of online instruction. This can be achieved by including pragmatics teaching methods that use online facilities in university-level courses for prospective teachers, such as Instructional Technologies. Current EFL teachers could also benefit from in-service training on this topic.
Classes involving mixed-level learners are defined as one of the most frequent challenges which EFL teachers encountered in Turkey (Bekiryazıcı, 2015). Sykes and Dubreil (2019) put forward that teaching and learning pragmatics are complex tasks. Owing to the complexity of pragmatics in nature, it can be really difficult for slower learners to keep up with the faster ones. Therefore, it can be recommended for EFL teachers to make use of
digitally-mediated self-access materials since they provide opportunities for self-navigation and pace adaptation.
Hockly (2015) emphasized that there has been a huge growth in the number of online language learning communities for the past decades. The number of available online applications is increasing. Yet, such materials mostly bring attention to either semantic or grammatical activities (Alnufaie, 2022). Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to complain about the lack of software to learn about pragmatics. The current study presents successfully developed digitally-mediated self-access tasks which can be inspiring for software developers.
The results also reported that self-paced pragmatics learning helped learners develop pragmalinguistic accuracy more than teacher-led CMC-based instruction. However, it should be kept in mind that the learners in the current study were prospective WAT participants and the activities involved in the self-paced materials were based on WAT scenarios. Since the learners were going to take part in similar dialogues in the USA, they were highly motivated to learn from the tasks. Self-paced learning requires satisfactory autonomy level and high motivation. That is, these findings should not be interpreted as an indication for ignoring pragmatics in the L2 classroom. Even if self-access materials as the source of pragmatics instruction are being used, EFL teacher should still motivate and guide their learners to this end and make pragmatics a part of assessment.
The findings also proved that pragmatics instruction by means of both teacher-led online sessions through CMC and self-paced pragmatics learning through digitally-mediated self-access materials were likely to enhance learners’ pragmatic awareness. Whereas the learners in both groups failed to address the pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic aspects in TA1 protocols, they tended to be more successful at pointing out to such features in TA2 protocols. That is, metapragmatic explanations and awareness raising activities boosted the learner outcomes regarding pragmatic awareness. In order for noticing to occur during the learning and teaching process, learners need to learn to look at language use analytically (Borg, 1994). For such analysis to be successful, the learners need to be provided with metalinguistic vocabulary (Murray, 2009). The findings showed that both types of fully online pragmatics instruction involved in the study enriched the learners’ metalinguistic repertoire to talk about pragmatic aspects of the language. Traditionally, EFL teachers have been reluctant to introduce metalinguistic vocabulary, based on the belief that it makes pragmatics more complex for
learners. However, the current study has shown this to be untrue. Therefore, it can be concluded that EFL teachers should not hesitate to introduce metalinguistic vocabulary.