martes, 6 de enero de 2015

Further thoughts on listening comprehension

This is another post in-passing on some of my observations regarding listening comprehension. This time, related to real life and on location! (Dublin, at the moment!)

I mentioned in my previous post that our expectations and knowledge may have a positive or negative effect on comprehension.  When it comes to travelling, the knowledge of what to expect in certain situations, particularly service encounters, is essential to avoid communication breakdowns. We all know the pragmatic  "scripts" for the institutional dialogues in our culture, the ropes are part of what Widdowson calls our "schematic knowledge". However, when placed in a foreign country, no matter how much you may know about the language, if you don't know what to expect, certain questions may catch you off guard.

Situation 1: Supermarket. Typical questions that I did not see coming and required extra effort:
-Would you like the receipt? (The transaction was over, and in my country they give me the receipt straightaway, which is why the question surprised me)
-Have you got a Nectar card? (Difficult to get at first,r but I thank the countless hours of English radio ads that clarified this for me. It is a kind of loyalty card for a certain supermarket.)

Situation 2: First time at Starbucks abroad. In my country, you always get the plastic cups, it's a given (and not at all ecological). But in Lotndon, after ordering my drink and taking great care to mention the size and type of drink, and feeling quite pleased with myself, I got the folliwing question: "To eat in?". If it had been, as I got in other places "To eat in or take away?", I would have surely understood at once. But this sole question in such a rush, just lost me.

Here ends my non-scientific post on list comp, in the hope that we realise that it's not all about language, that cultural conventions should be part of our language teaching practices (especially if we aim at communication), and that pragmatics has a major role in listening comp as well.

(Sorry about the typos and other atrocities, I'm writing this on my mobile)

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