1887
Volume 119, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0019-0829
  • E-ISSN: 1783-1490
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Abstract

The study of learners' pragmatic and discourse knowledge, also known as "interlanguage pragmatics", is now an important preoccupation of second-language acquisition (SLA) research. Spurred by this growing interest in interlanguage pragmatics and with a view to contributing to this field of research I conducted a study of requests in English produced by English as a second language (ESL) university students in their daily interaction mainly with lecturers. I collected the data for this study by means of observation and by recording "golden episodes of requesting behaviour in students' spontaneous speech. For comparative purposes, I elicited additional data by means of a discourse-completion task (DCT). One finding is that the students' knowledge of contextual use of requesting strategies in English is inadequate because their requests are of (very) limited range and inappropriate in context. The in-appropriacy of the requests was confirmed by native speakers' judgments. One explanation of the inadequacy of the students' pragmatic knowledge is the lack of exposure to the whole gamut of requesting devices. Another may have a strategic dimension. Also important is the explanation of transfer from the first language/s (Ll/s) : learners may be simply carrying over into English structures translated from their L1. From a pedagogical point of view, it is suggested that discourse and pragmatic knowledge be systematically taught to avoid miscommunication and negative reactions from native and competent non-native speakers of English. The suggestion of teaching pragmatic knowledge seems to be supported by the finding about one subject who, after exposure to a variety of requesting expressions, seemed to modify the pattern of her requests.

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1998-01-01
2019-10-19
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