Teaching speech acts to EFL college-level Omani learners: requests and refusals
Al Aamri, Rahma
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In the Sultanate of Oman, English is highly required by the educational institutions and the job market. However, research has revealed that university graduates suffer from lack of communication skills that deter them from interacting effectively with English speakers and cause them to be perceived as rude and disrespectful. To deal with this problem, research states that teaching speech acts, which are performing actions by producing them as utterances, such as giving compliments, requesting, refusing, apologizing, inviting, and promising, to name a few (Yule 48; Ishihara and Cohen 57; Cutting 16; Al-Eryani 20), holds a promise in its outcomes. It enhances Omani EFL learners' communication abilities, saves them from being viewed as rude, and helps them better prepare for the job market needs. However, there are challenges to be considered before undertaking speech acts teaching into the Omani EFL context: lack of sample authentic materials that are conducive to speech acts teaching, adhering to traditional and teacher-centered pedagogical philosophies, and absence of communication skills courses at the university level. In this paper, I address how teaching speech acts is a solution to the demands of developing EFL Omani learners' communication skills. Therefore, I familiarize teachers with the speech acts' theoretical background, and I reason why speech act should be taught, through communicative and explicit instruction. I end this essay with a pedagogical application for teaching two types of speech acts: requests and refusals. The lesson plan unit aims at raising students' awareness that speech acts are performed differently across cultures, i.e. Arab and American cultures in this context. It illustrates how learners will be able to (1) identify the speech acts, (2) realize their softeners, polite and impolite, and direct/indirect, and (3) perform them in different academic, workplace, and informal contexts.