Oral Examinations in EMI: A Focus on Pragmatic Competence

Degano, Chiara and Zuaro, Beatrice (2019). Oral Examinations in EMI: A Focus on Pragmatic Competence. Textus: English studies in Italy, 32(1) pp. 141–162.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7370/93187


The oral examination is an area of EMI in which students' language difficulties often come to the fore, and studies from different countries have shown that inadequate language competence may negatively impact on exam results. However, very little research has been done on oral examination interaction in EMI contexts. The aim of this paper is to help fill this gap by comparing the performance of students with different language backgrounds and levels of English. Attention was devoted to those linguistic structures spanning different levels of language description that reveal pragmatic competence, and, in particular, register awareness. These include features like premodification in complex nominals - which are typical of English, and even more so of ESP, but not so common in other languages - and information structure, with the attendant range of syntactic choices (active/passive, cleft constructions, extraposition, inversion and existential there).

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