“How am I to answer this in English?”. Pragmatic fluency in a nineteenth-century English-language teaching text


Abstract – In this contribution, I discuss the pragmatic dimension of a curious little volume entitled Friends at Home and Abroad; or, Social Chat: A connected tale in a series of imaginary conversations, illustrative of English phraseology and idioms to facilitate the acquirement of English as a living tongue (1890 [1876]), published by Theophilus C. Cann, a prolific and popular author of English language teaching materials. So far, only a handful of studies have examined the history of English language learning and teaching in Italy and my investigation aims to further our knowledge of how English was taught and learned in Italy in the second half of the nineteenth century. More specifically, in my analysis of Social Chat I am interested in identifying specific learning goals that were associated with the acquisition of pragmatic fluency, the uses of the text in the teaching and learning of English, and the type of learners who would have been Social Chat’s intended primary audience.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v31p145

Keywords: ELT, EFL, conversation manual, pragmatic fluency, Theophilus C. Cann


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