Pragmatics and the Internet in University Teaching

James Moody


Although use of the Internet by university students is generally considered a positive development in university/college teaching, relationships between sender and receiver in the construction of meaning are often overlooked. In response to this neglect, this paper discusses relevant applications of pragmatic theory to reading and writing. Then, in order to illustrate how Internet sources are actually being used in academic work, data are considered from assignments and essays written by students in a third-year academic writing course at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. Results show that as readers they sometimes fail to adopt an appropriate stance in relation to texts written by and for first-language users of English. Consequently, the writing these students produce can be negatively affected with regard to their selection of information, the assumptions they make about their own readers, and the assertion of their individual identity. It is therefore suggested that teachers can help students develop critical skills to discriminate between real and implied readers and to position themselves appropriately in relation to Internet texts.

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