Pragmatic Understanding through Dialogue and Choice: : How Role-playing Games like Fallout: New Vegas Promote Pragmatic Understanding
Abstract: Pragmatic understanding is required for us to communicate with each other in our daily life, for example, we need to know how to respond appropriately depending on context and the relation we have towards the person/s we talk to. Without pragmatic understanding, we will have a hard time communicating to one another because of failure to understand the force in what is said. Force, in this context, means the intention (underlying meaning) in the utterance. For native speakers, this understanding is naturally developed in their language. However, second-language learners can have a hard time learning and using the language in an appropriate way. This essay argues that video games can be used in the classroom to enhance the students’ pragmatic understanding by exposing them to a range of different contexts with characters with different agendas through the role-playing game, Fallout: New Vegas. With the game’s requirement that players actively choose between utterance responses in specific situations, combined with the multiple endings the game offers, the student needs to think through his/her choices in order to reach the desired gameplay and ending, forcing him/her to reply in an appropriate way given the context. By adding task-based teaching to this, such as discussion or group projects, teachers can use Fallout: New Vegas as teaching material for enhancing pragmatic understanding.
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