Developing Idiomatic Competence in the ESOL Classroom: A Pragmatic Account

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Liontas, John I.
TESOL Journal
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07-17-2017 3:54 PM
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Building on previous theoretical constructs and empirical findings on idioms, this article advances an integrated theoretical and methodological framework for developing idiomatic competence in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Beginning with a definition of the term idiomatic competence, the author then presents a framework of theory and pedagogy not to theorize research findings to date but to advocate for learning idioms in an explicit and systematic way befitting natural use in comprehending and producing idioms effectively and appropriately in actual context-sensitive social situations without violating the conventions of social appropriacy. Throughout the explication of this pragmatic account, a series of insights are offered to help readers reexamine their contexts of teaching and pedagogical practices. It is suggested that for idiom instruction to achieve social immediacy, that is, attain communicative reality and social relevance in everyday discourse, the conditions for optimal idiom learning need to be made compatible with and supportive of the way English language learners learn best. The author concludes with implications for practicing and testing idiomatic competence across the curriculum, even at the tertiary level, in a supportive environment that values active, real-life participation and engagement in English language learning both inside and outside the language class.
English Learners
English Learners