Learning how to learn pragmatics

Application of self-directed strategies to pragmatics learning in L2 Chinese and Japanese


  • Naoko Taguchi Carnegie Mellon University
  • Xiaofei Tang Carnegie Mellon University
  • Joy Maa Carnegie Mellon University




learning strategies, strategy instruction, Chinese, Japanese, second language pragmatics


Learning strategies are self-generated actions taken to make learning more efficient,productive, and transferable to new settings (Oxford, 1990, 2011). We can teach students how to use learning strategies efficiently, helping them gain autonomy and control of their own learning process. This study applied strategy instruction to pragmatics learning in a second language (L2). Adapting Oxford's (2011) taxonomy, we taught L2 learners various cognitive and metacognitive strategies, including how to pay attention to select pragmatic features, and how to monitor and evaluate their learning of the features. Four L2 Chinese learners and six L2 Japanese learners in a US university received strategy instruction on targeted pragmatic features (i.e., conversation opening/closing; indirect meaning). The instruction was followed by a two-week period in which students kept a daily journal recording their experiences with the targeted features. Interviews were conducted at the end to gauge students' reflections of the strategy applications. Results showed that students noticed targeted pragmatic features in available resources, but there was imbalance in the degree of noticing and types of strategies used.

Author Biographies

Naoko Taguchi, Carnegie Mellon University

Naoko Taguchi is Professor in the Modern Languages Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where she teaches courses in second language acquisition and Japanese language and culture. Her primary research area is second language pragmatics. She has (co)authored/(co)edited a number of books, including The Routledge Handbook of SLA and Pragmatics (Routledge), Second Language Pragmatics (Oxford University Press), Second Language Pragmatics: from Theory to Methods (Routledge), and Developing Interactional Competence in a Japanese Study Abroad Context (Multilingual Matters). She is the co-editor of the journal Applied Pragmatics.

Xiaofei Tang, Carnegie Mellon University

Xiaofei Tang is currently a PhD Candidate in Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests include second language pragmatics, game-based language learning, technology-enhanced language learning, task-based language teaching (TBLT), and Chinese as a foreign language. Her dissertation examines digital game-based learning for Chinese formulaic expressions.

Joy Maa, Carnegie Mellon University

Joy Maa is a PhD student in Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University, where she teaches Japanese. Her primary research interests include second language pragmatics, second language socialisation, and Japanese as a foreign language. Her current research examines the role of learner agency in the acquisition of second language pragmatics.


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How to Cite

Taguchi, N., Tang, X., & Maa, J. (2019). Learning how to learn pragmatics: Application of self-directed strategies to pragmatics learning in L2 Chinese and Japanese. East Asian Pragmatics, 4(1), 11–36. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.38207