top of page



Skill Overview

What is pragmatics?

Pragmatics is the appropriate use of language in shifting social and academics contexts.


What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

  • Use language for different purposes.

  • Change language according to the needs of a listener or situation.

  • Follow rules for conversations and storytelling.


Why is understanding pragmatics important to reading?

It is important to learn about pragmatic conventions in order to effectively and appropriately communicate and interact with others in a variety of contexts.  Lack of pragmatic knowledge may cause a failure in communication because language may be interpreted differently depending on situation and context.

Structured Literacy Tools

Sequential and Cumulative

Systematic and Explicit

To Mastery

Teaching pragmatics in a sequential and cumulative manner is spelled out in the Common Core Standards and in the MS CCRS.  Pragmatics is addressed in the Speaking and Listening Standards under “Comprehension and Collaboration” and “Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas.”  The sequential and cumulative approach to teaching pragmatics begins with participating effectively in conversations to adapting speech to a variety of contexts.

A systematic and explicit approach to teaching pragmatics in an early literacy classroom involves an intentional and daily focus on language and discourse.  Pragmatics relies on a sufficient vocabulary; therefore, explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction can support effective and appropriate verbal communications.  Teachers provide direct instruction in pragmatics by modeling appropriate discourse and explaining clearly to students how language shifts according to mood, purpose, audience, and context.

Just as there is no ceiling for language and vocabulary, pragmatics is impossible to evaluate for mastery.  However, demonstration of accurate usage and understanding of the following actions portrays milestones of effective and appropriate use of language:

  • regular opportunities for students to engage in conversation 

  • adapt to shifting contexts 

  • learn to read non-verbal communications

  • model accurate use of idioms

  • and demonstrate appropriate dialogue with peers and others 

(used with permission)

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
bottom of page