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ERIC Number: EJ1094818
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-663X
The Pragmatics of Greetings: Teaching Speech Acts in the EFL Classroom
Zeff, B. Bricklin
English Teaching Forum, v54 n1 p2-11 2016
As a language teacher, Bricklin Zeff has long realized that knowing the words of a language is only part of speaking it. Knowing how to interpret a communicative act is equally important, and it needs to be taught explicitly. Therefore, he makes this learning a regular part of the class experience. Greetings are one of the few speech acts that children are taught explicitly in their native language (Kakiuchi 2005). Yet, the communicative function that greetings serve is usually understood as subordinate to other purposes in the ultimate goal of communication (DuFon 1999). In the language classroom, this subordinate position often means that teaching greetings is neglected; too little attention is paid to the roles that greetings play in various cultures and how these roles may affect the ultimate goal of communication. This article provides background information on this important speech act and instructional strategies for use in the classroom to help teachers equip their students with a critical component to successful interactions. This article also describes four awareness-raising tasks that introduce the greeting speech act as a cycle of explicit pragmatic instruction, including keeping a greeting journal, watching contemporary TV shows, using discourse completion tasks (DCTs), and participating in role plays and mingles.
US Department of State. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of English Language Programs, SA-5, 2200 C Street NW 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20037. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; Japan
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A