Native Speakers’ Attitudes towards Conversations in Language Textbooks

Jenny Osorio

Abstract


This paper examines the structure of conversations in Spanish textbooks compared to conversations in real life context. According to Scotton, a conventionalized exchange is an interaction for which there is a general sense of “script” (1988). The sequences presented in textbooks are usually well-structured and grammatically accurate, but they often lack pragmatic appropriateness. The current study focuses on three aspects: how dialogues are presented in Spanish textbooks, the perceptions of native speakers towards these dialogues, and their attitudes when listening to them. Four different recordings (two from textbooks, one from a Spanish speaking soap opera and one from a Spanish movie) were listened to by 10 native speakers of Spanish from different countries and backgrounds. The recordings presented three types of situations: introductions, invitations, and casual conversations between friends. After listening, the participants were asked to express their perceptions of the naturalness of the conversations using a Likert scale and open and closed-ended questions. The results showed that participants perceived some unnatural features in the conversations from the textbooks with regards to speech rate, conversation sequence, and grammatical structure. It is argued that teaching material developers and teachers should consider the differences between the linguistic and pragmatic aspects of a language, in order to provide students with the pragmatic competence for successful communication in the target language.

Keywords


authentic material; authentic-sounding material; textbook evaluation; dialogues; Spanish as a foreign language; second language

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University of Victoria