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Title: Authentic videos in a context of explicitness in teaching English requests
Author: Alawad, Areej Mohammad
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 0125
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Requests are sometimes known as one of the most face-threatening acts since they are subject to various culturally specific social factors. An extensive body of literature has shown that despite the broad universality of the existence of mitigating devices in performing polite requests, they are sometimes manifested pragmalinguistically differently across languages and cultures (Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984; Tawalbeh & Al-Oqaily, 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to raise foreign language students’ metapragmatic awareness through explicit instruction with the assistance of a tool that brings culture and language into play, such as ‘authentic videos’. Since videos are considered one of the richest sources that can be used to help learners experience and observe pragmatics at work (Usó-Juan & Martínez-Flor, 2008), this study investigated the efficacy of showing authentic videos of English requests in a context of explicit instruction on three main areas of student ability. First, it examined the videos’ effects on the ability of students to recognise pragmalinguistically appropriate English requests. Second, it considered the videos’ effects on the ability of students to pragmalinguistically perform appropriate oral English requests. Third, it evaluated the videos’ effects on the students’ self-evaluation of their requesting ability, awareness of pragmalinguistic variations, and videos. Fifty-six matched female Saudi undergraduates were split into two groups: 29 in the experimental group (EG) (video group) and 27 in the control group (CG) (no video group). Both groups received explicit instruction. However, whereas the EG was exposed to ‘authentic video clips’ of English requests, the CG performed role-playing exercises. Authentic video effectiveness was tested for three main areas. First, the students’ ability to recognise appropriate English requests was tested using multiple discourse completion tasks (MDCT): pre-tests, post-tests and delayed post-tests. Second, the students’ ability to perform pragmalinguistically appropriate oral English requests was rated according to appropriateness using oral discourse completion tasks (ODCT): pre-test vs. post-test. Students’ self-evaluation was tested using a Likert questionnaire with a few open-ended questions. There were some mixed results. Student recognition results revealed that both groups significantly outperformed themselves in the post-test and delayed post-test when compared to their pre-test. However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in either test. Nevertheless, the EG marginally outperformed the CG in their oral requests (p = .053). In addition, while the EG significantly improved in its ability to make pragmalinguistically appropriate oral requests (p = .012), the CG did not (p = .102). As for the students’ self-evaluation reported in the questionnaire responses, for the most part, neither group’s responses revealed any significance. In addition, both groups significantly outperformed themselves in the recalled strategies and examples, with no identifiably significant differences when compared. Nonetheless, the EG seemed to significantly outperform itself in its ability to think of how a native English speaker would respond during the process of making a selection of the most appropriate requests in the MDCT, and before recording their ODCT, thus revealing that the EG had become more culturally sensitive. Although the results were inconclusive, the ODCT results and the EG’s heightened awareness in some areas point to the effectiveness of the use of videos to teach requesting in the context of explicit instruction. Further investigation is recommended over a longer period of time and on different speech acts to test the effectiveness of this new visualingualism approach.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available