Screenplays as a pedagogical medium for cultivating EFL learners’ metapragmatic awareness of speech acts in spoken english

Yan Zhao, Jiangfeng Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter reports a thirteen-week action research project that was conducted with sixty-seven first-year non-English-major students taking a mandatory general English course in a Chinese state university. Using English professional screenplays as the source of authentic conversations, we designed and implemented an intervention that enabled the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students to consider how the realisation of a speech act is mediated by a range of contextual factors. We achieved this by: (1) selecting screenplay extracts that reflect varied communication situations, (2) using conversation analysis and Hymes’ SPEAKING model as guiding frameworks, (3) combining awareness-raising tasks with explicit instruction and (4) setting up weekly group work. From two iterative cycles of research, the following qualitative data were collected: (1) two open-ended questionnaires, (2) audio recordings of classroom interaction, (3) our own observation and reflective notes and (4) the conversations and self-reflection created by the students each week. The results show that English screenplays helped to develop the Chinese EFL students’ metapragmatic awareness by providing rich conversational, social and literary contexts to a speech act. The screenplays also enabled the students’ resourcefulness as social actors, fans of pop culture or creative individuals in their interpretation and formulation of varied second language (L2) speech acts. This holds implications particularly for EFL teachers in challenging circumstances such as the one where this study took place: large class sizes, limited class time and students having only limited access to naturally occurring English conversations. The findings also hold implications for the establishment of an interactional learning space facilitated by English screenplays and teacher scaffolding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiterature, Spoken Language and Speaking Skills in Second Language Learning
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781108641692
ISBN (Print)9781108472944
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2019


  • Action research
  • Conversation analysis
  • Metapragamatic awareness
  • Screenplays
  • Speech acts


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