Call for abstracts

Language users’ degree of success in engaging in communicative events is the result of their joint efforts in achieving mutual understanding and solidarity as well as of their ability to carry out tasks as partners in transactions. The ability to communicate effectively in the cognitive, emotional and transactional domain depends on a number of interrelated factors. These include linguistic proficiency, familiarity with the communicative situation, attitude towards the addressee, sensitivity to intercultural issues, and the predictability of the effects that one’s interactional behaviour may have on the interlocutors and the situation at large.

Communicative effectiveness is a pragmatic skill that develops over time in a First Language (L1) and in a Second/Foreign Language (L2) – as a result of exposure to, participation in, socialisation into and/or explicit instruction in communicative-interactional practices. While ordinary language users can intuitively tell how successful a given communicative event is, language practitioners (e.g. teachers, examiners) find it much harder to objectively account for (the extent of) such success. The reason is that the perceived adequacy of discourse output does not consistently correlate with a consistent combination of formal, semantic and strategic properties across situations and groups.

Yet, becoming aware of what determines communicative effectiveness is of crucial importance in L2 learning. Indeed, besides linguistic skills, language learners need to develop pragmalinguistic, sociopragmatic and interactional competencies in the L2. As a result, an increasing number of instructors and examiners are seeking to include these competencies into their teaching/assessment agenda, addressing such issues as the use of conventional expressions, address terms, speech act strategies and formulations as well as listener response. While research has made great strides in L2 pragmatics, a still under-investigated area is, however, how research findings in this domain can be fruitfully applied to assess learners’ pragmatic skills at different levels of proficiency in various contexts.

The goal of this conference is to promote a focused reflection on the description, exploration and assessment of receptive and productive pragmatic skills across registers, text types and contexts.

Within this framework, we welcome contributions relevant, but not limited, to the following topics:

Assessing pragmatic and/or metapragmatic proficiency in the L1 and L2
Assessing pragmatic skills development in the FL classroom or in a study-abroad context
Computer-assisted assessment of pragmatic competence
The use of language corpora for the study of pragmatic phenomena
Conducting cultural competence needs analysis
Identifying and describing sociopragmatic norms in a cross-linguistic/cultural perspective
Designing and field-testing pragmatic syllabuses
Developing descriptors of pragmatic skills in L1 and L2
Self- and other-perception of pragmatic adequacy
Surveying students’ and teachers’ learning objectives in pragmatics
Assessing pragmatic adequacy in translation
Assessing effectiveness and adequacy in non-verbal communication
Identifying neural correlates of pragmatic development
Diagnosing pragmatic deficits and impairments

Interested participants are invited to submit a 400-700-word abstract (excluding references) for consideration following this template and a separate file with your personal details, as specified here. The abstract file should not include any self-identifying information.

The abstract file and the personal details files, in Word format, should be emailed as attachments to sara.gesuato@unipd.it and erik.castello@unipd.it. The message should read “Abstract submission: pragmatic assessment” in the subject heading. Ideally, an abstract should state research questions, approach, data and results.

Each abstract will be reviewed anonymously and assessed along the following criteria:

  • A- discusses a topic relevant to the theme of the conference
  • B- indicates the specific topic addressed
  • C- has a clear sense of purpose
  • D- appears to be theoretically motivated
  • E- specifies the amount, type and source of the data analysed
  • F- outlines the research method adopted
  • G- motivates the choice of the research method adopted
  • H- presents actual findings, including preliminary findings, rather than merely anticipated findings
  • I- draws conclusions from the findings
  • J- is well-structured and reads well

You may submit a maximum of two abstracts if at least one of these is co-authored. The submission deadline HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 18 MARCH 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by mid-April 2018.

Presentation formats at the conference include: full papers (20-minute presentations followed by 10 minute for discussion), work-in-progress reports (15-minute presentations followed by 5 minutes for discussion) and posters (to be displayed during a specific session of the conference).

The working languages of the conference are English and Italian. But support material for presentations (e.g. PPT slides, handouts, posters) is expected to be in English.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Padua!

Conference organisers :

Sara Gesuato
Erik Castello