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Pragmatic and Cross-Cultural Competences

Focus on Politeness

Edited By Thomas Szende and George Alao

The L2 speaker is able to function in the target culture only when s/he is able to understand, anticipate and produce the choices that the said society makes. Being polite therefore means: knowing how to draw on the conventions of a society, taking into account the expectations of an interlocutor regarding social relations at any given point, and is based on the appropriate language register to the communication situation; being able to balance standard and non-standard features and to adjust one’s speech by moving it towards more or less familiarity, or formality. The learner therefore needs to be aware of the pragmatic flexibility of speakers – native and experts – who move from one register to another and juggle between respect and caution, first degree meaning and irony, exuberance and excess, with difference in levels, nature and degrees of politeness.


This volume contains contributions whose theoretical reflections, field work experiences and authentic data from diverse African, Asian and European languages, literatures and cultures as well as a variety of corpora shed new light on politeness as a central phenomenon in pragmatics, and on what is at stake when teaching or learning the subject. It also opens up a conceptual dialogue with a whole range of domains likely to enrich the debate: sociolinguistics, literature, translation studies, semiotics, cultural anthropology, social psychology, etc.

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Chapter XIV: Critical thinking, cognitive presence and social languages in an LMOOC (Christelle Hoppe)


Chapter XIV

Critical thinking, cognitive presence and social languages in an LMOOC

Christelle Hoppe

EA 4514 PLIDAM, INALCO – Université de Nantes (France)


Language-learning Massive Open Online Courses (LMOOCs) offer opportunities for participants to develop language competencies and intercultural skills as they provide the possibility to study language use in context. Such a language-learning environment can be relevant to participants and get them involved in participatory, immediate, authentic, communicative actions shared by the community of practice. In the online discussions which form part of a MOOC, discourse itself becomes a mediating tool-kit. LMOOCs offer a natural extension to second language learning from a language socialization perspective. During the first session of the MOOC Paroles de FLE, 540 participants shared 1,900 streams of discussion in French. In this chapter, we focus on the influence of the LMOOC environment in shaping social behaviour and consequently language-learning outcomes from a Community of Inquiry perspective. This study describes a practical approach to judging the nature and quality of critical discourse in online discussions using anticipation, regulation and respect of textual structures and socio-linguistic protocols. A natural extension to the language socialization perspective is to apply the Community of Practice (CoP) concept to the learning process. The nature of language learning in MOOCs is still being established through a process of dialogue amongst researchers, educators and participants.

In MOOCs, online discussions are as important as in other online courses, but they are...

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