Teaching Implicatures of English at University Preparatory Schools in Turkey

Ajabshir A. B. , Çakır C.

Fourth International ULEAD Conference on Research in Applied Linguistics - ICRAL 2020, 24 - 26 Ekim 2020, ss.1

  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.1


One of the relatively scarcely studied topics in pragmatics is implicature. Implicature refers to the utterances that carry extra-semantic messages that are intentionally hidden in the words and expected to be picked up by the addressee. They are categorized into conventional and conversational categories, the latter being divided into particularized and generalized conversational implicatures. Though little exists in the literature on implicatures, some studies have proven that they are not only teachable but also positively affected by instruction (Bouton, 1994). In the current study, we focused on Sentence-Level-Conventional Implicatures (SLCIs) and Particularized Conversational Implicatures (PCIs) in the EFL context in terms of three dimensions in language teaching: course books, instructors, and teaching approaches. More precisely, we intended to find the place teaching implicatures has at the tertiary level ELT and which teaching approach proves to be more effective. Not only were the course books evaluated through content analysis in order to determine how much they included teaching of implicatures, but also the materials that we designed were used during the quasi-experimental study. For the course book analysis, a qualitative research method, namely content analysis, was conducted. A total number of 14 course books used in the upper-intermediate English preparatory schools of Bilkent, METU, Ankara, Hacettepe and Gazi Universities were carefully scrutinized to identify occurrences of PCIs and SLCIs. We gave the instructors a relevant questionnaire to find out how much they are familiar with implicatures and how much they incorporate implicatures in their teaching. The content of the supplementary materials consisted of activities aimed at explicitly teaching the conventional and conversational implicatures. Finally, the effects of implicit and explicit teaching approaches in teaching implicatures were checked. Even though past research on the effectiveness of these approaches to teaching pragmatics indicated that explicit teaching is generally more effective than implicit teaching, our study checked this hypothesis on upper-intermediate level adult learners, exclusively with a focus on the teaching/learning of PCIs and SLCIs. The results of the content analysis of the course books indicated that they mainly took an implicit approach to the teaching of implicatures if they had any activities aimed at teaching them at all. Additionally, the results concerning the students’ exposure to the PCIs and SLCIs in the upper-intermediate level English course books might lead us into evaluating the exposure insufficient. This was in line with Velenga’s (2004) study, which found the teaching of pragmatics in the course books far below sufficient. The analysis of the teachers’ responses to the questionnaire revealed that a small portion of teachers are familiar with implicatures conceptually. It can be concluded from their responses that they have not been formally introduced to the concept of implicatures, and therefore it does not come as a surprise that they do not give any special attention to teaching implicatures. However, the answers also reflect an inclination in teachers towards improving the teaching of pragmatics in general and implicatures in particular. Finally, while the results of the quasi-experimental study showed that a particular focus on teaching implicatures –whether implicit or explicit– has a positive effect on students’ knowledge of them, it verified the past studies indicating that the explicit teaching proved to be more effective. It was also observed that the SLCIs were more teachable than the PCIs, confirming the relevant study by Bouton (1994).

Keywords: pragmatics, Implicatures, conventional implicatures, conversational implicatures, content analysis, quasi-experiemntal study, questionnaire