Chinese EFL learners' pragmatic competence in requests

Wang, Vincent Xian. (2006). Chinese EFL learners' pragmatic competence in requests PhD Thesis, School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Wang, Vincent Xian.
Thesis Title Chinese EFL learners' pragmatic competence in requests
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Roly Sussex
Associate Prof. Ping Chen
Total pages 256
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects L
380201 Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics
751000 Communication
Formatted abstract
This study examines the development of pragmatic competence in requests in two groups of Chinese EFL learners (advanced and intermediate) in a tertiary institute in Macau, China. The learners answer a written discourse completion test that contains ten scenarios where they request common services or ask for favours. The request behaviours are examined in terms of utterance length, strategy types, formulaic expressions, and modifications (internal and external).

It is found that, compared with a group of native speakers of English, the learners have not developed native-like pragmatic behaviours. Although the advanced and the intermediate learner groups reach native-like distribution in STRATEGY TYPE for the scenarios taken together, statistically significant differences from the native group are observed in several individual scenarios (particularly with the intermediate learners). In addition, the two groups of learners employ formulaic expressions sharply differently from the native group in types and according to scenario. The learners do not use internal modifiers as frequently or situation-differentially as the native group: they do not show a strong preference for bi-clausal structures and conditionals in the scenarios of substantial favour asking. The learners employ elaborated external modifications and are verbose in requests. According to Bialystok’s (1993, 1994) two-dimensional model of pragmatic competence, the learners are missing analytical knowledge of the scenario-specific behaviours, and their control ability is not fully developed.

This study examines adult Chinese learners of English in a foreign language environment, and extends our knowledge of the development of request behaviours in children in second language environments (Achiba, 2003; Ellis, 1992). It also relates to the research on formulae in SLA (Wray, 2000, 2002; Kecskes, 2002) by providing empirical data on formulaic expressions in learnersÂ’ requests. It is further argued that further examination of interlanguage pragmatics should be (a) scenario-based, and (b) formulae-based.

Keyword English language -- Study and teaching -- Chinese speakers.
English language -- Spoken English -- China

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:15:30 EST