Exploring Second Language Learning: Communicative Competence, Pragmatics, and Second Language Literacy

Timothy M. Mecham, Utah State University

Publication made available electronically April 30, 2012.


During my experience in the MSLT program, I participated in course work that covered research, linguistics, pedagogy, and pragmatics. I have retained the best parts of each course and applied them to my teaching philosophy and artifacts in this portfolio. The first item in the portfolio is my teaching philosophy. The portfolio defines what I feel to be important aspects of language teaching and demonstrates my professional development as a result of the program. Additional contents of the portfolio demonstrate what I have learned in the MSLT courses. The teaching philosophy discusses my goals as a German instructor. First, I discuss my role as a coach in the classroom. Students acquire second languages when they become an active participant in communication. Second, I explore what good teaching practices are in second language teaching. Teaching language requires ample modeling of communicative tasks, effective feedback, task-centered activities, and time to practice. Third, communicative language learning should incorporate interpersonal, interactional, and presentational communication opportunities. Included in communicative language learning is the PACE model for exploring authentic materials. Fourth, grammar must be learned in support of communication. Learning grammar without communication can be confusing for language learners, but incorporating grammar in a communicative activity enables the student to use grammar in support of communication. Last, assessment must have purpose. Assessment should test what the student can do in the 5 C’s: communication, culture, connections, comparisons, and communities.