A Web-based Instructional Module for the Teaching of Routine Formulas in Russian

Open Access
Furniss, Edie Anne
Graduate Program:
Applied Linguistics
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 27, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Celeste S Kinginger, Dissertation Advisor
  • Celeste S Kinginger, Committee Chair
  • Gabriela Appel Lantolf, Committee Member
  • Xiaofei Lu, Committee Member
  • Michael Marion Naydan, Committee Member
  • Maria Shardakova, Special Member
  • Russian as a Second Language
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Pragmatics
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning
  • Language Teaching Materials
Pragmatic competence comprises an essential component of proficiency: it enables speakers to use and interpret language appropriately in varied contexts. The use of technological applications for teaching pragmatics is on the rise (Taguchi & Sykes, 2013), in part because those applications are well-suited to the types of awareness-raising tasks that support Schmidt's (1993; 2001) noticing hypothesis. However, the potential for technology in the instruction of routine formulas has yet to be examined. Furthermore, there has thus far been no research on the intersection of pragmatics and technology in the instruction of Russian. Russian pedagogical materials rarely present routine formulas, which communicate pragmatic meaning in social interaction, in a thorough manner. This dissertation reports on the impact of an awareness-raising, corpus-referred instructional website on L2 Russian learners' acquisition of nine routine formulas, selected with reference to analyses of corpus data and popular textbooks of Russian. Intermediate and advanced L1 English learners of Russian were assigned to either an experimental (n = 18) or control (n = 16) group. An oral proficiency assessment and background questionnaire were used to collect information on participants. Pre-/post-/delayed post-tests assessed knowledge and aural recognition of the targeted routine formulas. Experimental group participants completed online instructional modules that provided information on the form, function, and typical contexts of these formulas, along with authentic examples of usage (Russian National Corpus excerpts and film clips) and opportunities for practice. Data on the experimental group participants' experience with the routine formulas and reactions to the instructional website were collected via an online feedback form and retrospective interviews. Results indicate that the intervention had a durable effect on learners' knowledge of the targeted routine formulas. However, aural comprehension was not affected. Participants who used the website reported that it increased their awareness of the routine formulas and their functions in conversation. Use of the formulas was found to be contingent on many factors, particularly context and relationships with interlocutors. This study demonstrates the potential for pedagogical interventions that explicitly instruct pragmatics and for the use of corpus methodologies in pragmatics-focused technological applications, especially for languages other than English.