Keywords: Teaching English pragmatics, pragmatic competence, communicative competence
It is commonly understood that the communicative competence of English of the students in Taiwan used to be much lower than their other types of competence of English. Therefore, one of the major curriculum goals of Taiwan’s English education has recently been shifted from the traditional form-focused teaching to the development of students’ communicative competence. To reach such a goal, it is necessary to develop students’ pragmatic competence, which is one of the major sub-components of communicative competence. However, very few studies on Taiwan’s English education so far have addressed students’ pragmatic competence development and the teaching of pragmatics. The purpose of this study was thus aimed to find out how and to what extent the pragmatics of English was being taught in our primary and secondly schools and what the major difficulties were in teaching English pragmatics. The author used classroom observations, questionnaires and interviews to investigate the research questions. The participants were 35 elementary and high school English teachers randomly selected from the schools in central Taiwan. The results showed that English pragmatics was indeed very much neglected in their regular English instruction, particularly in the junior high level. The major difficulties in teaching pragmatics include: 1) The textbooks they used rarely provide sufficient pragmatic information. 2) Their curriculum goals and teaching syllabi limited their emphasis of instruction. 3) English was rarely treated as a tool with real and natural communication functions in their teaching. 4) They did not know how English pragmatics can be instructed. 5) The teachers themselves lack English pragmatic competence. Suggestions for the ELT corresponding to the findings are provided in this paper. The suggested topics for further studies include those on the development of English teachers’ pragmatic competence and on how to make the teaching of English pragmatics easier.