Teachers' Means of Scaffolding L2 Learners’ Pragmatic Production in Online Instruction

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of English Language Teaching, West Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English Language Teaching, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of English Language Teaching, West Tehran Brach, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran


Scaffolding is a contributing factor to the effectiveness of pragmatic instruction. Although there is a large body of research on the means of scaffolding in second language teaching, research on scaffolding in L2 pragmatic instruction, especially in online teaching, is still in its infancy. To bridge the gap, this study investigated the means of scaffolding (feedback, giving hints, instructing, explaining, modeling, and questioning) utilized by teachers to aid learners in producing pragmatically appropriate speech acts of request and refusal. The data from 18 hours of online pragmatic instruction to 21 intermediate EFL learners via the Skyroom platform showed that the most frequent means of scaffolding used by three teachers participating in this study were questioning and explaining. Employing questioning, teachers used display questions to guide learners toward the appropriate production of request and refusal. Moreover, explaining, as a means of scaffolding, helped learners establish connections between new pragmatic knowledge and their prior knowledge of the speech act. The other three means of scaffolding, including feedback, giving hints, and modeling, were characterized by almost the same rate of frequency. The least frequent means of scaffolding was found to be instructing. It can be concluded that teachers tend to use questioning as a means of scaffolding more frequently because pragmatic knowledge needs to be improved through interaction. The findings can help teacher educators heighten the teachers’ knowledge of various means of scaffolding to enable them to employ different means of scaffolding instead of overusing questioning and explaining.