Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An interventional study: Adult ESL beginners and advanced learners on acquiring and producing pragmatic requests
by McGuthrie, Monica Elena Leal, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2015, 137; 1596984
Abstract (Summary)

Second language (L2) learners are usually given a limited amount of exposure to pragmatic instruction even though researchers have advocated the importance of teaching pragmatics in the classroom (Alcón-Soler, 2008; Bardovi-Harlig, 1990; Cohen, 1996). One area that is discussed among researchers is learners’ proficiency and its effect on acquiring pragmatic competence. On one hand, researchers argue that learners need to have a high level of linguistic competence or proficiency in order to produce complex linguistic pragmatic functions. Researchers such as Codina-Espurz (2008) believe that there needs to be “a certain degree of linguistic competence” (p. 229) in order to gain pragmatic competence. In other words, lower L2 level learners may not find it beneficial to receive instruction since they lack the vocabulary to produce appropriate pragmatic responses. However, researchers have found that even having a high level of linguistic competence does not mean gaining complete native-like pragmatic competence (Bardovi-Harlig & Hartford, 1990; Hill, 1997). On the other hand, researchers suggest that pedagogical intervention even at the beginning level is beneficial (Tateyama et al., 1997; Wildner-Bassett, 1994).

This study involves teaching pragmatic requests to adult English second language (ESL) learners of beginner and advanced intact classes at a non-profit organization called Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) in Pacoima, California. The study was of mixed methods, and data were collected using pre and posttests that included a written and oral role-play portion called a Discourse Completion Test (DCT), a Multiple-Choice assessment (MC), and a Background Questionnaire (BQ). Additionally, an interview and a delayed posttest were given three months later to one learner from each level to study the effect instruction had on their request development. Furthermore, this study wanted to find if pragmatic instruction had an effect on acquiring and producing appropriate responses to different request situations.

The results showed that learners from both levels improved after explicit pragmatic instruction and developed different types of request expressions and modification items after intervention. Learners in both levels were able to move toward more native-like production by increasing the amount of conventional expressions used; however, the advanced learners were able to use a wider variety of expressions and modifiers. Overall, the results showed that instruction affected learners’ awareness and ability to produce pragmatically appropriate responses in different sociopragmatic situations beneficially.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Abbuhl, Rebekha
Commitee: Fender, Michael, Finney, Malcolm
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 55/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, English as a Second Language
Keywords: Pragmatic competence, Pragmatic development, Pragmatic instruction, Proficiency, Requests, Speech acts
Publication Number: 1596984
ISBN: 978-1-321-99186-4
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