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'Ladder Project' (LeArners' Digital communication: a Database for pragmatic competence in Italian L2)

Hosting organisations
Uni Innsbruck - Institut für Fachdidaktik, Bereich Didaktik der Sprachen
Responsible persons
Nicola Brocca

Didactical research is still seldom able to rely on univocal results. However, while disagreement exists on whether an explicit or implicit treatment is best for the teaching of L2 pragmatics (Taguchi & Roever 2017: 220), consensus can be found on how essential is the source of inputs (Bardovi-Harlig 1996, Limberg 2015).

Unlike other subfields of linguistics, such as syntax, this one is divorced from a set of rules. Instead, mastering sociopragmatics requires the acquisition of grades of appropriateness in a certain context better explained within a fuzzy logic.

Recent research (Cortés Velásquez & Nuzzo 2017; Nuzzo & Cortés Velásquez, 2020; Artoni et al. 2020) has underlined the utility of the creation and analysis of a data set for the learning of sociopragmatics in L2 Pragmatics. Taking a corpus under analysis could aware learners of the fine-grained logic undergoing sociopragmatic abits and face them to a source of input tailored for their specific didactical needs.

Indeed, L2 Learners have seldom access to appropriate material especially when the focus is on interactions through digital media. Speech acts going through digital media being normally private, digital texts like emails or instant messaging in Italian L2 class are not authentic and find little space in manuals or L2 courses (Brocca, in press; Garofolin & Trubnikova, in preparation).

To fill this didactical and research gap, bachelor students from an Italian L2 didactics course at the University of Innsbruck were involved in the creation of the LADDER corpus (Brocca, 2020). In the first phase of the course, students were engaged in the collection of a corpus of digital writings through online role plays (Taguchi & Roever 2017: 85, 231) addressed to German-speaking learners of Italian at A2-B2 levels and native speakers. The role plays aim at eliciting linguistic acts of request (Bettoni 2006, Pagliara 2019) and appointment cancellation (Santoro et al. 2019) in increasing levels of social distance and different media (through laptop based emails and smartphone based WhatsApp messages). The data are associated with metadata about the test people and build a corpus in excel format. In the following phase, the lecturer set standards for the annotation of the corpus based on categories of pragmatics literature. Students annotated the corpus and created a dataset, which they eventually analyzed according to statistical models. The qualitative analysis showed differences in the use of certain pragmatics tools between L1 and L2 speakers. The students were requested to reflect in a transfer-oriented blog the results ( where they underlined the outcomes for the Italian L2 didactics. The tagged corpus will be available in Excel in the Institute’s website. Moreover, the same data will be converted in open access TEI format and archived in

The project illustrates a didactical approach of sociopragmatics in L2 intended to assist foreign language teaching and shows a model of research based on didactical seminar within digital humanities.


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