The Presentation of Speech Acts in Oral English Textbooks

Li Xin (Shanghai International Studies University)

Article ID: 4443



In this study, an evaluation of the presentation of speech acts in six oral English textbooks is conducted from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives to see how speech acts are presented and whether enough and explicit meta-pragmatic and contextual information are provided.

Results show that 1) there is a paucity of speech acts and the average percentage of the six textbooks including speech acts is only 28.3%. And some speech acts like ‘threatening’, ‘warning’, ‘declaring’, ‘welcoming’ are not presented at all. 2) Meta-pragmatic and contextual information is too general and far from enough. Among all the six textbooks, from Book 1 to Book 5, contextual information is deduced by learners through reading conversations. Only in Book 6, a contextual description is provided before the conversation begins. Contextual information such as the age, gender and social status of Speaker and Hearer is never presented. Contextual information like the relationship between Speaker and Hearer and the place where the conversation happens is inferred from reading the conversations. Meta-pragmatic information like the degree of formality, politeness strategy, indirect speech act strategy, and social norms are not at all involved. Only in Book 1, a cultural tip is provided.

Since oral English textbooks are one of the main sources for Chinese EFL learners to enhance their pragmatic competence, it is much expected that they should present a wide variety of popularly-used speech acts with rich contextual information as appropriate language input.


Pragmatic competence; speech acts; the speech act of apology; evaluation of oral English textbooks

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