1976. New York - Learner Readability: The Status of Pragmatic Factors.

by C.George SANDULESCU, Stockholm.

(Paper given at the Tenth Annual TESOL Convention (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), which took place in New York City from 1 to 7 March 1976 at the Americana Hotel.)


1.        Reading typology is goal-oriented: (a) reading for instruction, (b) reading for pleasure, and (c) reading for language. Categories (a) and (b) can be collapsed, obtaining the provisional dichotomy -- reading for language vs. reading for non-language.

2.        Language teaching/learning interaction evidences a definite set of semiotic parameters which have so far received insufficiently systematic attention. By way of illustration it can be said that the notion of skill in language teaching/learning still operates as an extremely fuzzy concept. The significance of communicative and sociolinguistic factors is emphasized over the more traditional psychologic and psycholinguistic ones. Hence, the emphasis placed on pragmatic parameters.

3.        The following set of factors should be taken into account by both learners and teachers in the process of developing foreign-language reading abilities:

                                (a)    learner-centred factors;

                                (b)    teacher-centred factors;

                                (c)    text-centred factors;

                                (d)    language-specific parameters;

                                (e)    goal-oriented features of the interaction.

4.        Research preoccupations could thus be divided into two major groups:

                                (a)    those characterizing conventional Sentence Linguistics;

                                (b)    those emerging from the rapidly developing field of pragmatics.

5.        A case is made for continued research in order to determine the theoretical status of pragmatics. An attempt is also made to blow up the narrow boundaries of conventional Sentence Linguistics, and place the teaching of reading in the perspective of discourse/text. It is discourse structure and overall discourse typology that should be directly related to scanning procedures and intake strategies.