Speech acts in EFL textbooks for young language learners

by Eva Jakupčević & Mihajla Ćavar Portolan (University of Split, Croatia)


The pragmatic competence of young language learners (YLLs) is receiving increasing attention as a research topic due to the fact that children are globally on the rise as language learners (Zein, 2019), bringing about a need for more studies that could help practitioners working with this age group. For the age-appropriate teaching of pragmatics to be implemented successfully in the classroom from the very beginning of YLLs’ compulsory education, it needs to be supported by adequate materials for learners and teachers. The scarce research of pragmatics in EFL textbooks for young learners to date (e.g. Jakupčević & Ćavar Portolan, 2021; Schauer, 2019) has found issues and inconsistencies in the way pragmatic content is presented in them. The present study will offer more extensive insight into pragmatic content in local and international EFL textbooks used in Croatian primary schools with learners in grades 1-4 (age 6-10). Six textbook cycles (24 textboooks in total) will be analysed by identifying instances of 10 speech acts included in Schauer’s (2019) notion of survival English – linguistic means enabling young learners to survive in possible emergency situations tied to their own real-life contexts (e.g. requests, responses to requests, greetings, mental states etc.). The results are expected to shed light on whether the materials available to Croatian teachers and learners provide them with the basic pragmatic content which might be of use to this age group. We hope the results can be used to raise awareness of teachers and textbook authors to make sure that enough attention is given to pragmatic content in EFL textbooks for the youngest learners.


Keywords: young language learners; textbooks; pragmatics; speech acts



Jakupčević, Eva / Ćavar Portolan, Mihajla (2021). “An analysis of pragmatic content in EFL textbooks for young learners in Croatia”. In: Language Teaching Research.

Schauer, Gila A. (2019). Teaching and Learning English in the Primary School. Springer International Publishing.

Zein, Subhan (2019). “Introduction to Early Language Learning and Teacher Education: International Research and Practice”. In: Zein, Subhan / Garton, Sue (eds.). Early Language Learning and Teacher Education: International Research and Practice.

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