In The Name Of God
ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY,
The Effects Instruction on Pragmatic Development among Iranian EFLLearners:Teaching Polite Refusahs in English
By: Malek Lotfi
Supervisor by: Dr. Akbar Azizifar
Advisor by: Dr. Habib Gowhary
Evaluated by the Following Committee in February 2015 as:
Dr. Akbar Azizifar (Supervisor)…………………………………..
Dr. Habib Gowhary (Advisor)…………………………………..
Dr. …………… (Reader) …………………………………..
Islamic Azad University, Ilam. Iran
Department of English Language Teaching
Thesis for Receiving M.A. Degree on English Language Teaching
English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
The Effects Instruction on Pragmatic Development among Iranian EFL Learners:Teaching Polite Refusahs in English
A. Azizifar. Ph.D
H. Gowhary. Ph.D
I thank all who in one way or another contributed to the completion of this thesis. First, I give thanks to God for protection and ability to do the work.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Azizifar, for the continuous support of my M.A study and research, for his patience, motivation, enthusiasm, and immense knowledge. His guidance helped me in all the time of research and writing of this thesis. I could not have imagined having a better advisor and mentor for my M.A study.
Besides my supervisor, I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Gowhari for his encouragement, insightful comments, and honorable guidance.
In addition, I should also express my gratitude to my wife and my son and to my daughters they have always encouraged me and support me.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank my friend Hemat Nademi who always motivated and encouraged me.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Pragmatic Competence 3
1.2 Speech acts 5
1.3 The Speech Act of Refusal 6
1.4 Explicit instruction for developing pragmatic knowledge 7
1.5 Statement of the problem 8
1.6 Research question and hypothesis 9
1.7 Significance of the Study 9
Chapter two: Review of the literature
2. Review of the literature 12
2.1 Introduction 12
2.2 Semantics versus pragmatics 14
2.3 Pragmatic competence versus pragmatic failure 15
2 4.Pragmatic Awareness 16
2.5 Cross-cultural pragmatics 18
2.6 Factors Influencing L2 Learners, pragmatic Acquisition 18
2.6.1 Linguistic competence 18
2.6.2 Length of Residence in a target Country 20
2.7 Speech acts 20
2.8 On heretical frameworks related to L2 pragmatic development 22
2.9 On teachability of pragmatic knowledge 23
2.10 Factors Influencing L2 Learners’ Pragmatic Acquisition 25
2.11 On how EFL learners produce refusals 26
Chapter three: Methodology
3. Methodology 36
3.1 Introduction 36
3.5 Data analysis 39
Chapter four: Results & Discussion
4. Results and discussion 41
4.1 Overview 41
4.2 Demographic statistics 41
4.2.1 Demographic statistics of participants according to gender 41
4.2.2 Demographic statistics of participants according to age 42
4.3 Descriptive Statistics 43
4.4 Checking the assumptions of covariance analysis 44
4.5 The findings of the hypothesis of the study 45
4.6 Discussion 46
Chapter five: Summary & Conclusion
5. Discussion and conclusion 54
5.1 Introduction 54
5.2. Summary 54
5.3. Conclusion 55
5.4. Implications 56
5.5. Suggestions for further research 57
5.6 Limitations of the study 58
list of Table
Table 4.1 The Frequency and Percentage of Participants According to Gender 42
Table 4.2 Frequency and Percentage of Participants According to Age 42
Table 4.3 Descriptive statistics of learners’ polite refusal in English for experimental and control groups 43
Table 4.4. The test results of normality of variable distribution in the participants 44
Table 4.5. The results of homogeneity of the variances using Levene’s test 44
Table 4.6. The results of analyzing the homogeneity of the regression slopes in the variable of the study 45
Table 4.7. The ANCOVA results of the posttest mean scores of “polite refusal” 46
list of Figure
Figure 4.1 The Frequency and Percentage of Participants According to Gender 42
Figure 4.2 Frequency and Percentage of Participants According to Age 43
Figure 4.3. The comparison of pre- and posttest between control and experimental groups 46
Communicative competence as the language users’ knowledge of how language is used encompasses one important component, pragmatic competence, which plays an important role in proper use of language in various contexts. The present study brought the concept of pragmatic competence into focus and took up an inquiry to make it clear whether L2 learners’ ability in using the speech acts of refusals can be developed by explicit instruction. To do so, the study encompassed 60 L2 learners who were in intermediate level of ability studying English in some language institutes in Ilam. The study was experimental in its approach having both control and experimental groups which were pre- and posttested to see the effect of interventionist approach on their pragmatic ability. In order to include continuous explanatory variables, covariates, ANCOVA was put to service. For the purpose of getting data to evaluate learners’ degree of refusal knowledge, the participants took the discourse completion test prior and after the training course. The findings of the study revealed that leaners’ knowledge of using speech acts of refusals improved significantly by applying the explicit technique of instruction in the classroom. Results in this study suggest equipping the language learners with understanding of both linguistic forms and behavior patterns in refusing strategies of the target language.
Keywords: Pragmatic competence, speech acts of refusals, explicit instruction, L2 learners
1.1 Pragmatic Competence
Over the last two decades, the development of learners’ communicative competence in second or foreign language has established one of the main concerns in language teaching in the field of Second Language Aqcuisition (Kasper & Rose, 2002). Recent models of communicative competence (Celce-Murcia, Dornyei, & Thurrell 1995; Martinez-Flor & Uso-Juan, 2006) have asserted that effective communication in target language entails not only knowledge of language system but knowledge of pragmatic rules and language use. Fundamentally, pragmatics reflects on communicative action and its context. Furthermore, pragmatics considers another dimension in communicative action and context that is the users involved.
It is a noteworthy fact that pragmatics plays a very significant role in the production and perception of speech. Crystal (1985) defines pragmatics as ‘‘the study of language from the point of view of users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication’’ (as cited in Allami & Naeimi (2011), p. 240). One of the main factors in the process of communication is pragmatic competence. How interlocutors produce and perceive speech in diverse situations is an important issue as creating inappropriate utterances would cause misunderstanding and miscommunication (Sahragard & Javanmardi, 2011).
Studying pragmatics enables one to probe people’s intended meanings, their assumptions, their purposes or goals, and the kinds of actions (for example, requests) while they are interacting (Yule, 1996). Based on this assumption, successful communication in the target language implies crossing the boundaries of grammatical knowledge and achieving the competency in pragmatics. Accordingly, pragmatic competence necessitates comprehension and production of speech acts and their appropriateness in a given context. Study of pragmatic development in a second language, observes how nonnative speakers comprehend and produce action in the target language and considers how second language learners develop the ability to understand and perform action in a target language.
The field of pragmatics has hosted a number of models by which the realm of pragmatic competence has been demarcated. Fraser (1983) for instance, defines pragmatic competence in terms of conveying an attitude. He describes communication as an interaction between speaker meaning and hearer-effect and is accomplished successfully when the speaker conveys his or her attitude to the hearer. He argues that this attitude can only be conveyed and interpreted through pragmatic competence. Faerch and Kasper (1984) proposed a model in which pragmatic competence was divided into two categories: declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. The declarative knowledge includes six categories of knowledge: linguistic, socio-cultural, speech act, discourse, context, and knowledge of the world. The procedural knowledge, on the other hand, refers to the process of selecting and combining declarative knowledge from these categories. Bachman (1990) proposed another model that divides pragmatic competence into illocutionary and sociolinguistic competencies. The illocutionary competence has four main functions: ideational, manipulative, heuristic, and imaginative. The sociolinguistic competence, on the other hand, is divided into four categories: sensitivity to differences in dialect, sensitivity to register, sensitivity to naturalness, and knowledge of the culture.
As the above mentioned models portrayed, pragmatic competence encompasses a complex set of inter-related factors, both linguistic and socio-cultural. It comes as no surprise then that this kind of knowledge is very difficult for non-native speakers to acquire. Language learners often fail to follow the socio-cultural rules that govern language behavior in the target language, and this has been referred to in the literature as pragmatic failure.
1.2 Speech acts
Within the circle of pragmatic competence, the ways in which people carry out specific social functions in speaking such as apologizing, complaining, making requests, refusing things/invitations, complimenting, or thanking have been referred to as speech acts.
In contemporary philosophical thinking, words cannot have isolated entities, rather actions used with different functions (Wittgenstein, 1953, cited in Ishihara & Cohen, 2010). The main source of miscommunication is the inability to perceive and produce speech acts appropriately in the context by language learners. Successful production of the speech acts in a language simultaneously demands speaker’s linguistic proficiency and the pragmatic perception of speech acts. Performing the speech acts properly in a first and second language is very challenging as it comes from both linguistic and cultural variations between the languages (Hassani, Mardani, & Hossein, 2011).
The concept of context has been highlighted by studies on the speech acts. According to Austin (1962), three elements impact the appropriate circumstances for the realization of a speech act 1) the presence of the speaker, 2) the addressee, and the 3) situation. For Searle (1969), context is evaluated in light of the felicity conditions that are necessary for the performance of a speech act. Specifically, for Austin the context of a speech act is conceived of as a cluster of actual states of affairs or events of different kinds, whereas Searle views the context of a speech act as a set of propositional attitudes of the participants, that is, the beliefs or intentions of the participants. In speech act theory, according to Searle, the nature of context is cognitive because the felicity conditions must hold prior to the performance of a speech act. In this respect, the notion of context is viewed as predetermined, unchangeable, cognitive, and as knowledge that may not be subject to the negotiation of face in social interaction.
1.3 The Speech Act of Refusal
The speech act of refusals represents one type of dispreferred response. Refusals shape a type of speech act that is projected as a response to another individual’s request, invitation, offer or suggestion which means it is not speaker-initiative (Hassani, Mardani, & Hossein, 2011). In essence, refusals are subset of the category of commissives since they commit the refuser to performing an action (Searle 1977). Chen, Ye, and Zhang (1995) believe that a refusal, as a reactive speech act, is a response to an initiating act and is considered a speech act by which a speaker fails to engage in an action proposed by the interlocutor.
Refusal, furthermore, is deemed as a face-threatening act to the listener, because its direction is against the listener expectations. Thus, not to be considered as offensive or impolite, non-native speakers often overuse indirect strategies that could be misinterpreted by native speakers (Al-Eryani, 2007). According to Al-Kahtani (2005), saying no is difficult for non-native speakers of a language. How one says ‘no’ is more important in many societies than the answer itself. Therefore, sending and receiving a message of ‘no’ is a task that needs special skills. The speaker must know when to use the appropriate form and its function depending on his and her interlocutor’s cultural-linguistic values.
Since, the interlocutors’ network of relations can be threatened by failure to refuse appropriately; the interlocutors can resort to variety of strategies to avoid offending. However, sociocultural appropriateness of these strategies differs in languages and cultures. Rubin (1981) as cited in Keshavarz, Eslami, and Ghahraman (2006) states that for language learners with limitations in linguistic as well as sociocultural norms of the target language, performing refusal appropriately necessitates a higher level of pragmatic competence than other speech acts. Thus, pragmatic transfer from the first to the second language is more likely to occur in uttering a complicated and face threatening speech act like refusal (Beebe, Takahashi, & Uliss-Weltz, 1990).
1.4 Explicit instruction for developing pragmatic knowledge
Research has witnessed an ongoing debate about what kind of instruction can help learners develop their pragmatic awareness. Among various studies, the intervention studies have typically strived to go deep into action to examine how direct teaching affect the acquisition of pragmatic knowledge (Taguchi, 2010). Comparison of effect of instruction across the studies reveals that explicit instruction is more beneficial to language learners (Yoshimi, 2001). As an approach to enabling language learners to choose linguistic resources to express their message in ways that are socially acceptable, Yoshimi (2001) proposes that explicit instruction can assist learners in building a knowledge base that is inclusive of information about 1) how linguistic resources in the target language (TL) can index one’s stances in interaction and 2) what the local cultural expectations concerning the stances to be displayed are. In other words, it can be said that explicit instruction which contain inclusive pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic information enabling learners to express their stance with TL resources could facilitate the learners’ pragmatic development. Cook’s (2001) study reflect the fact that teaching strategies which embrace explicit instruction might be helpful in enhancing learners’ understanding of contextually-sensitive ways of indexing stance with the forms .
1.5 Statement of the problem
Teaching pragmatic competence in instructed settings has been considered as an essential way to facilitate learners’ pragmatic developmental process (Alcon & Martinez-Flor, 2008; Kasper & Roever, 2005). Traditionally, instruction in second or foreign language classes has focused on formal aspects of language and less attention has been given to pragmatics. For the purpose of training pragmatic competent language learners, teachers enriching their classrooms with social and cultural aspects of target language will prepare the ground for more competent learners who are equipped with required knowledge to handle various aspects of communication actions. For Hymes (1972), pragmatic knowledge constructs one component of ‘communicative competence’, interacting with sociocultural knowledge and other types of knowledge, so that the task of a language user in his/her performance of verbal action “is to select and combine elements from these areas in accordance with her illocutionary, propositional and modal (or social’, ‘politeness’) goals’. Kasper (1998) argues that to account for the acquisition or development of pragmatic abilities “pragmatics needs to relate (product) description not only to social processes but also to the psychological processes of speech production/reception, as well as to language learning and acquisition” (Faerch & Kasper 1985: 214). Having considered the significance of pragmatic knowledge as a way to reach communicative competence and the fact that little has been devoted to highlight the effects of instruction on the development of pragmatic awareness of Iranian EFL learners, the present study aims to investigate the role of instruction in developing the learners’ ability to achieve the goal of mastering refusals.
According to Kasper and Schmidt (1996), a great majority of studies in pragmatics has not been developmental; focus has rather been given to the ways in which non-native speakers’ pragmalinguistic and socio-pragmatic knowledge differ from that of native speakers and among learners with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
1.6 Research question and hypothesis
Due to the delimitations of the studies carried out on refusals in the English language and because of the fact that such studies in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context, especially in the context of Iran is quite limited, the present study will be carried out with the purpose of investigating the effect of teaching refusals explicitly to Iranian EFL learners. Therefore, the question to be answered is as follows:
1. Does explicit instruction have a significant impact on Iranian EFL learners‟ production of linguistically accurate and pragmatically appropriate refusals?
Considering the above research question, one research null hypothesis is formulated:
H1: Formal instruction of pragmatic knowledge plays a significant role in the enhancement of Iranian intermediate L2 learners’ use of speech act of refusal at p < 0.05.
1.7 Significance of the Study
Undoubtedly, pragmatic knowledge can smooth the path for EFL learners to achieve the desired goal of being communicatively competent target language users. Theoretically, this study can contribute to the increasing body of research on the effects of instruction on EFL learners’ pragmatic knowledge and development, by providing detailed description not only of the research study, but also complete information about the instructional treatment, particulars of Iranian EFL setting. Pedagogically, the uniqueness of this study may stem from its vast application to a variety of educators including language institute teachers, material designers, test developers and SLA researchers in general and pragmatics researchers in particular.
Review of the literature
2. Review of the literature
Pragmatics is the field of linguistic that examines how language is used in interactions. Since language can be used in various situations in various ways, the definitions of pragmatics are subject to variation. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field, this chapter reviews definitions that have been commonly cited and can be seen as the most influential presentation of the field.
Pragmatics is a new area of linguistics when compared to phonetics, morphology, syntax, or semantics. In the 1960s pragmatics was not an established field and it converted issues that could not be placed in to other areas of linguistics (Leech, 1983). Although today the importance of pragmatics in linguistics acknowledged, it does not frame a coherent field of study since it overlaps with many other linguistic areas and consist of various different aspects of language use (Cristal, 2010).
Linguists tend to define the field according to their own interest. Cristal (1987) writes that pragmatics is the study of language form the point of view of the users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication. Thomas (1995) criticizes Cristal’s definition by stating that Cristal’s main focus is other producer of the message while interaction contains other important aspects as well. According to Thomas, Cristal takes a social view by defining pragmatics as speaker meaning and overlooking hearer’s interpretation or utterance interpretation (ibid.). Both of this aspects are taken into account by Yule (1996) who defines pragmatics as “the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker (or writer) and interpreted by a listener (or reader). This definition of pragmatics contains precise description of the field of study. Firstly, Yule writes that pragmatics is “the study of speaker meaning “, the study of what the speaker means and intends by his utterance. Secondly, pragmatics is “the study of contextual meaning”, how context influences what is said and how speech is structured in accordance with who is listening. Secondly, the field can be defined as “the study of how more gets communicated than is said “. In other words, pragmatics studies what inferences can be made from the speaker’s utterances. Finally, Yule states that pragmatics is “the study of the expression of relative distance, how the speaker and here’s experienced closeness or distance affects what is said or not said.
As Yule, also Thomas (1995) considers that both speaker meaning and utterance interpretation are important in the definition of pragmatics. In effect, Thomas’s definition of pragmatics as the study of “meaning in interaction” (1995) is another definition of pragmatics. According to Thomas, pragmatics is meaning in interaction since language use is a dynamic process; the speaker and the listener are both making meaning in communication and the physical, social and linguistic context influence the meaning.
Pragmatics differs from such linguistic areas as syntax and semantics in that it analyses human actions. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it is interesting to study the way people make sense of each other, on the other hand, it is challenging to study individuals and their minds (Yule1996). Moreover, Cristal (2010) states that in theory, anything can be said but in reality, speech is always governed by different social rules and different aspects of pragmatics influence the use of language, use is governed by various conventions, by politeness and by conversation structure.
The knowledge of pragmatic aspect of language is acknowledged as an important goal in language learning. Different curricula have noticed that language learners have to be able to use the conventions of the target language successfully in order to participate in a conversation.
This implies that learners need to develop their L2 pragmatic competence which consists of the knowledge of pragmatic aspect such as speech acts, politeness conventions and conversations structure.
2.2 Semantics versus pragmatics
Semantics and pragmatics involve the study of meaning in a particular language. The two terms, however, focus on different aspect of meaning. Semantics is the study of utterance meaning regardless of place and time of occurrence (Chierchia, McConnell & Genet, 1990). It is aimed at understanding the meaning of the word, phrase or sentence (Bowen, 2001). Pragmatics, on the other hand, refers to the study of how language is used to convey meanings in communication by speakers or writers. In particular, it deals with the appropriateness of language used in different social contexts, such as request, apologies, complaints, compliments, etc. Semantically, the example in Cohen (1996), “it’s hot in here,” is an informative expression a speaker addresses about the weather at that particular moment without any hidden meaning or implication. This meaning is similar to locutionary meaning termed by Cohen (1996). Pragmatic interpretation or illocutionary meaning (Cohen, 1996), however, requires a hearer to consider other environmental factors and social rules. This same utterance is probably intended as a request asking a hearer to do a corresponding action; the speaker may want a hearer to open a window because the weather is hot. It may also act as a complaint.
Thus, it is suggested that in addition to linguistic competence (the ability to use linguistic knowledge of a target language to convey the meaning, and to understand the meaning), L2 learners need to be able to distinguish the meaning of an expression made in context. This ability will help create successful cross-cultural communication. In other words, L2 learners need to be equipped with pragmatic competence so that they are able to achieve the communication goal.
2.3 Pragmatic competence versus pragmatic failure
Pragmatic competence is a component of communication competence (Bachman, 1990 Canale & Swain, 1980; Edwards & Cziser 2004; Hymes, 1917). Pragmatic competence can be defined as the ability to use language forms appropriately in a particular context (Kasper, 1997; McKay, 2002; Thomas, 1983; Xiao & Guangyi, 2005).
Pragmatic competence is classified into two segments: pragma-linguistic competence and socio-pragmatic competence. The former is the ability of using grammar rules to make sentences correctly. The latter, on the other hand, refers to the ability to communicate properly, according to the social rules of a language, lack of accurate interpretation or pragmatic competence may lead to cross-cultural communication mistakes.
Such mistakes or pragmatic failure was first defined by Thomas (1983) as the inability to use an appropriate language form to express the particular meaning for a particular context and to understand a speaker’s intention when she /he makes an utterance.
Socio-pragmatic failure, on the other hand, is caused by misunderstandings which arise from the different perceptions that affect linguistic choices during cross- cultural exchanges. Cultural differences between the target language and L1 language can also cause this type of mistake.
Considering degree of seriousness, pragmatic failure is more serious than linguistic failure (Thomas, 1983). A person might sound rude or disrespectful when he commits a pragmatic error which can lead communication breakdown. Thomas (1983) argues that cultural differences and negative transfer from learners, L1 to L2, could be one of the causes of pragmatic failure. Kasper (1997) addresses a different view arguing that inadequate pragmatic knowledge can also cause pragmatic failure. Yet another researcher, Mei-Xiao (2008) proposes three potential sources of pragmatic failure: 1) differences between a speaker’s culture and the target culture, 2) pragmatic transfer (the influence from a speaker’s native language, and culture on his or her pragmatic knowledge and performance, and 3) lack of pragmatic knowledge (Kasper, Blum & Kulka, 1993).
2 4.Pragmatic Awareness
As it is widely accepted that EFL learners lack opportunities to expose to a target English, and that pragmatic competence is important for successful international communication, scholars posit that one of the potential approaches to develop learners, pragmatic competence is to raise their pragmatic awareness (Rose, 1994 Bardovi – Harlige, 1996).
Rose (1994) suggests that pragmatic awareness rising has the distinct advantage of providing learners with primary information of the roles of pragmatics. Likewise, in her attempt to bring pragmatics and pedagogy together, Bardovi and Harlig (1996) state that raising pragmatic awareness is important to help develop learners’ pragmatic competence. A considerable number of researchers employed this approach in their studies to develop L2 learners’ pragmatic competence. Results show that it is an effective way (Kondo, 2002; Eslami Rasekh .2004; Safont Jorda, 2004).
Kondo (2002), for instance employed the pragmatic awareness raising approach to explore this kinds of pragmatic aspects learners become aware of through explicit pragmatic instruction. Thirty six Japanese EFL learners at a junior college in Japan took part in the experiment. They received 12- week instruction aiming to raise pragmatic awareness. After each week, all participants worked in group discussed about what they learned to find similarities and differences between English and Japanese. Their findings revealed that the participants became aware of pragmatic aspect of English.
In a similar study, Rasekh (2004) investigated the effect of metapragmatics on advanced EFL students. Sixty six Iranian EFL undergraduate students were asked to participate in the study. They took the pretest which was a multiple choice discourse completion test consisting of 26 situations about apologies, request and complaints in order to explore their pragmatic knowledge. After that they were randomly divided into two groups, 34 students in the experimental group and 32 in the control group. The explicit instruction employed with the experimental group comprised teacher-fronted discussion, cooperative grouping, role-plays, and other pragmatically-oriented activities. While the experimental group received instruction aimed to raise their pragmatic awareness, the control received normal instruction. After the 12-week instruction, all of the students took the same test again in order to check the effect of the explicit instruction. Results revealed that students, speech act comprehension improved significantly and that pragmatic competence could be developed through pragmatic awareness raising activities.
To conclude, the studies mentioned above have shown that pragmatic awareness rising is an effective method to improve EFL learners, pragmatic competence. It implies that this approach can be adapted in EFL settings to help develop learners’ pragmatic ability.
2.5 Cross-cultural pragmatics
Researchers within cross-cultural pragmatics believe that the culture we live in influences our everyday life and world knowledge. Moreover, they claim that culture has an effect on the way we speak and use speech acts, implicates or politeness conventions. In fact, according to Yule (1996) from the basic experiences and life knowledge we have, we create a cultural schema which helps us make sense of the world. Every culture creates different cultural formworks and this leads to cross-cultural variation. Varying cultural schemata can indeed cause difficulties and misunderstandings when visiting foreign countries, since cultural schemata vary from culture to culture, it is common that foreign people seem to behave and speak differently from what the visitor is used to in the home country. Cross-cultural pragmatics is “the study of differences in expectations based on cultural schemata” (Yule 1996). Cross-cultural pragmatics examines how speakers from different cultures construct meaning. It studies different cultural ways of speaking or pragmatic accents (Yule, 1996). Research within this field suggests that in cross-cultural communication, it is important to understand and pay attention to the pragmatic accents of others.
2.6 Factors Influencing L2 Learners, pragmatic Acquisition
The acquisition of pragmatic competence by L2 learners is significantly influenced by linguistic competence, length of residence in a target country, exposure to authentic input, and pragmatic awareness (Hicks, 1992; Harlig, 1999; Kasper & Rose, 2002; Rasekh, 2005). This section will provide brief review of existing literature concerning these factors.
2.6.1 Linguistic competence
Linguistic competence of a target language has received great attention as a factor affecting pragmatic competence. It has been extensively studied to prove whether learners with high language proficiency will possess relatively high level of pragmatic competence. Examples of this studies include Hoffman and Hicks (1992), Bardovi and Harlig (1999), and Li (2007).
Hoffman and Hicks (1992), for example, examined the relationship between linguistic and pragmatic competence. Three tests (a standardized multiple-choice test of French, a role-play question, and a discourse completion test) were employed in the study. The results from the study showed that linguistic competence was essential for pragmatic development. It was a means that allowed the learners to express their pragmatic knowledge. Hoffman and Hicks also posited that linguistic competence does not guarantee pragmatic competence. In other words, the level of linguistic competence needed for adequate communication in given language use situations does not necessarily assure learners of social cultural appropriateness in the contexts. In reviewing previous research , Brasov and Harlig (1999) found that in comparison to low language proficiency learners , high proficient learners seemed to possess higher level of pragmatic competence (e.g. Scarcella, (1979); Blum & Kulka, and Olshtain, (1986). However, these studies showed that even advanced learners did not mastered some basic pragmatics. In some pragmatic aspects, they still performed differently from native speakers.
Further, Li (2007) carried out a study to investigate the relationship between the learners, linguistic proficiency and pragmatic ability. Forty two non- English major students at Beijing University were the participants. A Chinese English test of the year (2004) was used to test the participants, linguistic competence while the tests made by the researcher (multiple choice discourse completion test and true or false test) were used to examine their pragmatic competence. The second. The finding showed a positive relationship between the two kinds of competence, but at very weak level. Therefore, Li (2007) concluded that linguistic competence was necessary but not sufficient for pragmatic development.
In conclusion, previous studies have proven that linguistic competence is a necessary tool for pragmatic acquisition. However, it does not guarantee the high level of pragmatic ability.
2.6.2 Length of Residence in a target Country
In addition to linguistic competence, the length of residence in a target Country is admitted beneficial to L2 learners’ pragmatic development. Harlig (1999) posits that the length of residence in a target country has a great influence on the acquisition of pragmatic competence. Kulaka and Olshtain (1985, cited in Harlig, 1999) find out from their study that an acceptance of direct request strategies by nonnative speaker of Hebrew increase as their length of stay increases.
Sasaki and Beamer (2002) compared the transfer of learners’ perceptions of refusal speech act from their first language to their length of residence in the target language environment. Data were collected from three different groups with a total of 16 Japanese native speakers living in Japan, 32 Japanese learner of English living in USA, and 17 American English native speakers. The data obtained from Japanese EFL learners were then compared to those from Japanese living in Japan and from Americans to investigate the L1 effect. This study provided evidence for the pragmatic transfer of refusal strategies with respect to length of residence in a target language environment, which indicates that length of residence does mitigate negative transfer of refusal strategies among Japanese learners of English.
2.7 Speech acts
One of the key areas of pragmatics is speech acts which refer to the acts a speaker performs when making utterances (Levinson, 1983). The concept of speech act theory first appeared in the work of Austin (1962). According to Austin, utterances are made to perform three kinds of acts: locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary. The locutionary act is an act when something is said. The illocutionary is an act of doing something by using the locutionary act performed by the speaker, and the perlocutionary act is a subsequent effect on the hearer’s action that the speaker makes by saying something. Among these, the illocutionary act is regarded as the central component of language function because it is the action actually performed by the speaker to convey his/her purpose (Austin, 1962). Considering its importance, Searle (1969) argued that the illocutionary act is the basic linguistic communication unit.
Searle divided the illocutionary act into five major classes: 1) Representatives, which commit the speaker to assert something to be true by using verbs as ‘suggest’ , ‘report’ ,’believe’ , and ‘conclude’, 2) Directives, which try to make the hearer perform an action by employing verbs as ‘order’ , ‘request’, ‘invite’, and ‘beg’, 3) Commissives, which commit the speaker to doing something in the future with different verbs as ‘promise’, ‘plan’, ‘vow’, and ‘oppose’, 4 ) Expressives , which express how the speaker feels about the situation. The verbs used are such as ‘thank’, ‘apologize’, ‘welcome’’, ‘deplore’, and 5) Declarations, which change the state of the word in an immediate way by making an utterance like “I name this baby Sofia.”
All languages have similar sets of speech acts but the relations and contexts of these acts differ between cultures. For example, some speech acts are more common than others, some are used in particular situations and similarly, some may be only used by a certain speech group. On the one hand, speaker has the choice to use whatever from they want but on the other hand, these choices are based on social conventions (Kasper & Rose 2002). In other to use different aspects of pragmatics such as speech acts appropriately in the target language, L2 learners need to process knowledge of these different social conventions. Learner’s knowledge and ability to use speech acts have gained interest among various researchers. In fact there is more L2 pragmatics research on speech acts than on any other aspect of pragmatics (Kasper & Rose, 2002). Research suggests, for instance, that L2 learners have a tendency to use more direct speech acts than native speakers (Kasper & Rose 2002).
2.8 On heretical frameworks related to L2 pragmatic development
The noticing hypothesis, the output hypothesis, the interaction hypothesis, and sociocultural theory are the frameworks relevant to L2 pragmatic development. Schmidt’s (1990) Noticing Hypothesis argues that pragmatic knowledge can be achieved by conscious processing. Schmidt differentiates between understanding and noticing: the concept of noticing refers to linguistic material stored in memory, presupposing allocation of attention to some stimulus, while the concept of understanding involves recognition of rules, principles and patterns. Understanding is the process in which linguistic material is organized into a linguistic system. In this context, Schmidt argues that, in the case of the learning of pragmatics in a second language, noticing is necessary whereas understanding is helpful.
Swain’s Output Hypothesis (1985) suggests that output practice can facilitate acquisition if it allows for cognitive processes such as noticing, hypothesis testing, syntactic processing and metalinguistic reflection. Swain states that learners’ output plays three roles in acquisition. The first role leads to more noticing. The second permits the learners to engage in hypothesis testing so that if the hypothesis works, they will continue using it. Finally, output allows the use of metatalk that is the use of language about language.
Long’s (1983) Interaction Hypothesis, assuming the inadequacy of input alone (i.e., positive evidence), focuses on the provision of negative evidence, i.e., evidence that a mistake has been made. He proposes that interaction prepares the ground for obtaining such evidence within natural interaction. In particular, he proposes that particular sorts of interactive encounter, i.e., those in which there is negotiation of meaning, leading to feedback moves such as confirmation checks, comprehension checks, clarification requests, and especially interlocutor recasting of the L1 speaker’s utterance, provide timely and personalized negative evidence without compromising the naturalness of communication. This approach is located within Long’s proposals for the importance of a focus-on-form, since form is brought into focus incidentally through these conversational devices, enabling learners to attend to it and perhaps, at a later stage, incorporate the effects of such feedback into their interlanguage.
Sociocultural theory, a nonlinguistic theory (Van Patten & Benati, 2010), that takes its foundation from Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, claims that culturally formed settings provides all learning or development for those participating in. Based on this theory, settings like schools, family life, peer groups and so on are cognitively oriented contexts which influence learning and development. Accordingly, all learning is situated and context-bound.
2.9 On teachability of pragmatic knowledge