2020 – 27th Annual Conference, Belgrade

Speakers, Presentations & Workshops

Tatjana Kovac

Awareness of Pragmatic Competence among English Language Learners in Serbia”

The topic of this poster presentation is a research of the way Serbian native speakers who are learning English perceive its pragmatics, especially the following speech acts: complaints, disagreement, apologies and giving or replying to compliments.

The starting hypothesis is that the importance of intercultural pragmatics is insufficiently emphasized in English language classes in Serbia, and that students but very often teachers, too, pay more attention to grammatical precision than to using appropriate spoken phrases in accordance with cultural pragmatics which native speakers have in certain situations. Additional hypothesis is that students with higher levels of knowledge are more aware of the importance of pragmatics in speech.

The first part of the presentation deals with defining basic concepts in relation to this topic: intercultural pragmatics, politeness, positive and negative face and, finally, the above mentioned speech acts.

The second part of the presentation relates to the results of a survey done among adult students attending English language courses at a private language school in Belgrade, in which we tried to determine how familiar the students are with using the speech acts of complaints, disagreement, apologies and giving or replying to compliments in English. One of the aims was to reach the answer to the question whether the grammatical accuracy of the spoken sentences or knowing polite and common phrases which native speakers would use in certain situations was of more importance to the respondents.

The conclusions stated in the final part of the presentation are based on the results of the survey as well as on the experience of the author in teaching English language to adults learners.


Tatjana Kovac is Director of Studies at “St Nicolas School”, based in Belgrade, Serbia. She has over 20 years of experience in English teaching. CELTA and DELTA trained, Tatjana has taught many different courses, levels and ages of learners. She has also been involved in recruiting, teacher training, and assessing. She holds a BA degree in English Language and Literature and an Ma in Applied Anglistics. Her main areas of interest are intercultural pragmatics and humanistic approach in teaching.