USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Pragmatic skills in limited English proficient/non-English speaking students, speech and language students, and regular education students.

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Alejandro Brice

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Pragmatics, the ability to use language socially and appropriately in a given situation, is a topic relevant to the needs of students enrolled in United States schools. As more students enrolled in schools come from a background where English is not spoken as the first language, there exists a need to appropriately place these students and meet their educational needs. Language needs become more complex as students are enrolled in middle school. The language needs can be met by a better teacher understanding of pragmatics and of the cultural and linguistic differences of students including limited English proficient students. The purpose of this study was to compare pragmatics performance of students from three adolescent groups: bilingual/Hispanic students, speech and language students, and regular education students. A pragmatics screening scale (i.e., Adolescent Pragmatics Screening Scale) was developed to measure pragmatics performance. All students were enrolled in middle school in Alachua County. Statistical analyses revealed that no differences existed between group means for the total score measure. However, significant differences were found between group means on five of six topic score measures. Those topics where differences were found were affects listener's behavior through language, expresses self, establishes appropriate greetings, initiates and maintains conversation, and active listening. No significant differences for group means were found for the topic of cues the Listener Regarding Topic Shifts. The findings of this study indicated that bilingual/Hispanic students had difficulties in ordering other persons and listening to a speaker. These difficulties may place Hispanic students at risk for cooperative learning situations in the classroom. Speech and language students displayed difficulties in expressing themselves, establishing greetings, initiating and maintaining conversations, and listening to a speaker. These difficulties may place them at risk for following and completing classroom lessons and participating in the classroom. Implications of this study for the classroom and for future research studies are given.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available through licensed access provided by the author or publisher. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the dissertation through the authenticated link provided.




University of Florida.

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