Return to site



· Volume IV Issue IV


Teaching grammar is beyond teaching students how to use linguistic forms correctly, meaningfully, and properly; its purpose must be the combination of teaching grammar and pragmatics (Larsen-Freeman, 2001). The study focused on the challenges encountered by ESL and EFL teachers in grammar teaching through content analysis. This study aimed to identify and analyze the challenges of integrating Pragmatics in ESL and EFL grammar classrooms. The researcher made use of a qualitative research design that deals with the content analysis of data. Since this study is mainly qualitative in nature, it used an in-depth analysis to fully gain a clear understanding of the challenges on the integration of pragmatics in grammar teaching. In the content analysis, 15 studies about the challenges encountered by ESL and EFL teachers in incorporating pragmatics in their grammar classrooms were analyzed. The findings revealed that the challenges on the integration fell in both teachers’ Pragmatics and learners’ Pragmatics. In terms of teachers’ pragmatics challenges were present in all its components in terms of knowledge, belief, and practice. All the components that teachers must acquire to teach Pragmatics effectively are missing under teachers' Pragmatics. In terms of learners’ pragmatics, the challenges fell under pragmatic ability and learner’s choice. In light of the findings, this paper would like to recommend that the curriculum developers, policymakers, and instructional materials writers try into looking at ways on lending an avenue on how teachers would be capacitated in both subject-content and pedagogical-content of Grammar and Pragmatics. This is so it will have a ripple effect on other components especially on learners’ pragmatics.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Grammar, ESL and EFL teachers



Pragmatics has now been considered as mainstream in the field of second and foreign language teaching and learning given the wide attention it has received for decades now (Ishihara & Cohen, 2014). The premise of pragmatics is the context-based shared meaning of language from the sender and the receiver. It means that it is not solely focusing on the interpretation of the receiver of the message but also the intention of the sender.

For the past years, huge attention has been received by second language pragmatics (L2 Pragmatics) or interlanguage pragmatics as a subfield under pragmatics as it centers on the learning and teaching of second language (Schauer, 2019). In fact, a huge plethora of studies has been conducted in this area (e.g., Li, 2022; Yakut, 2022; Derakhshan et al., 2021, etc.).

González-Lloret (2020) views L2 Pragmatic development or interlanguage pragmatics as the changes that occurs in the learner's pragmatic systems that includes their capability to comprehend and deliver context-based communicative actions. Further, it also includes exploring how changes occurred and how instruction and interaction with others from inside and outside the classroom is influenced by the pragmatic process. Interlanguage pragmatics has known to be hovering the second language acquisition research.

It has been emphasized by Kasper and Rose (2002) that the scholars on pragmatic development observed and commented the impact of constraints in grammars of learners to their L2 pragmatic comprehension and production. However, though they explicitly showed in their findings this fact, they did not explore the relationship between the development of grammar and pragmatics which is seen as fundamental component in learning grammar.

Teaching grammar is traditionally regarded as teaching the linguistic forms along with the rules. In fact, Mojica‐Díaz and Sánchez‐López (2010) assert that there were numerous studies revealing grammar teaching as a language learning conventional approach that emphasizes form over meaning, output over input processing, and a didactic over a discovery-based approach.

However, Larsen-Freeman (2001) contends that teaching grammar is beyond teaching students how to use linguistic forms correctly, meaningfully, and properly; that its purpose must be the combination of teaching grammar and communication. Thus, grammar should not be viewed as discrete set of meaning-less, decontextualized, static structures or solely as prescriptive rules on linguistic form; more so, they should also be considered as an instrument to express meaning in context-appropriate use (pragmatics).

In the L2 pragmatics literature, it has been shown that without instruction on pragmatics, learners do not make associations between target forms and how they can be used to execute specific "speech acts" in the target culture (Félix-Brasdefer, 2008; Fernández-Guerra and Martínez-Flor, 2006). Thus, there is a necessity to include this in the grammar instruction.

As there are increasing number of scholars who chose to learn languages not solely for the sake of knowing them, but more so for the purpose of using them (i.e., Celce-Murcia, 1980; Larsen-Freeman, 2001; Nassaji & Fotos, 2010) people began to interrogate the structure-based approaches in language instruction. Hence, several calls for the alteration of the present state of affairs in teaching the language teaching of moving away from a "focus on language-as-object," into a "focus on language for communication," gives much attention to teaching grammar through Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).

Littlewood (1981) as cited in Yu (2013) defined CLT as a teaching method that delve into meaningful communication in language teaching "in real situations and real time." Accordingly, the main tenet of the CLT approach is its aim of focusing not only on the grammatical competence but also on soliciting encouragement from the learners in the discourse and pragmatics language use for communicative and meaningful purposes.

Undeniably, Pragmatics being considered as one of the elements of communicative competence received so much attention due to its distinct feature. Unlike the other components, pragmatics is seen as an important component when teaching grammar. As a matter of fact, Ariel (2008) reiterates that Grammar and Pragmatics always go together, where one cannot be taught in isolation if the purpose is to attain effective communication. Thus, these two must be taught in tandem.

Pragmatic competence pertains to the ability to practice language correctly in various contexts. In second language (L2), it is considered as a crucial skill in communication. Thus, Hilliard (2017) reiterated that in teaching effective communication, teachers must integrate a focus on improving the students' pragmatic competence.

Pragmatic competence has long been recognized as a fundamental component of communicative competence (e.g., Hymes, 1972; Canale & Swain, 1980). With this, there has been increasing attention to address the second (L2) or foreign language (FL) curriculum in pragmatics as exposed in the published pedagogical-oriented articles (e.g., Ishihara, 2007; LoCastro, 2001; Rose, 2005; Yates, 2010) and functional teachers' resources (e.g., Bardovi-Harlig & Mahan-Taylor, 2003; Bardovi-Harlig, 2012; Kasper & Roever, 2005; Tatsuki, 2005; Taguchi, 2012; Tang, 2019). Ishihara (2019) mentions that since the 1990s, scholars have exerted vigorous efforts to improve the learners' pragmatic competence when teaching grammar (e.g., Hudson et al., 1995; Röver, 2005; Liu, 2007).

While some scholars attempt to study the effectiveness and impact of using Pragmatics in Grammar classrooms (e.g., Tang, 2016), there has been several underlying challenges that scholars identified which resulted to a failure of integration of these two areas in ESL and EFL Grammar classrooms. In particular, Sharif et al. (2017) stated that though these two areas were recognized and secured a position in various models of Communicative Competence, pragmatic competence has been notably absent from ELT curricula which resulted to the he barriers to teaching and learning pragmatics in ESL/EFL classrooms. Additionally, Rose (2005) points out that pragmatics is neglected in the second language acquisition.

As observed, although there are several studies pointed out to the integration of Pragmatics in grammar instructions, there has been notably numerous studies as well which look into the challenges in integration of these two areas. In terms of comparison and content analysis, it appears that there has been limited studies leading into that direction. Recognizing the importance of awareness and consciousness on the problems and issues on pedagogical approaches in teaching these two areas in tandem, this paper aims to fill that gap by investigating the challenges that ESL and EFL teachers were experiencing in integrating Pragmatics in their Grammar classrooms. Also, recognizing that there were several studies already (Alcón-Soler, 2015; Barekat & Mehri, 2013; Dastjerdi & Rezvani, 2011; Roever et al., 2014) that investigated the challenges and effects of Pragmatics on learner's performance, this study took a different direction as this investigated the challenges experienced on the integration of Pragmatics on the Grammar classrooms through the eyes of the ESL and EFL teachers.

see PDF attachment for more information