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Interlanguage Pragmatics: The Speech Act of Correction by Chinese EFL Learners in Taiwan

By 林明芳 and Ming-Fang Lin


[[abstract]]Interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) has become an increasingly important field in foreign language teaching and learning. Among ILP studies, speech acts are the most widely discussed areas for they can be easily observed in daily life. However, the speech act of correction has been long ignored by previous studies. Thus, the present study aimed to bridge this gap and had two major purposes. One was to examine the cross-cultural differences between Mandarin Chinese and American English correction. The other was to investigate how Chinese EFL learners’ perceived and performed the speech act of correction. Our data were recruited from four participant groups: 30 native speakers of Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan (NSC), 30 Chinese EFL learners of lower proficiency level in Taiwan (EFL-L), 30 Chinese EFL learners of higher proficiency level in Taiwan (EFL-H), 30 native speakers of American English in the United States (NSE). The research instrument was a questionnaire consisting of three major parts: Scaled Response Questionnaire (SRQ), Discourse Completion Task (DCT), and reasons of opting out. The questionnaire included 12 scenarios of correction and 3 scenarios of refusals. All the scenarios varied according to two contextual factors, social status and social distance. Elicited data were coded on the basis of a data-driven coding scheme, consisting of 13 head act strategies, softening devices, and reasons of opting out. Twenty percent of the data were randomly selected to be coded by a second researcher, and the interrater reliability was 87 %. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted to examine participants’ correction. The results showed that there were similarities and differences between Chinese and Americans’ correction. Furthermore, the quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that our EFL learners’ correction exhibited pragmatic transfer of L1, approximation to L2, and their interlanguage development. Learners’ L1 transfer and interlanguage development demonstrated their aberrant use of L2, which would frequently result in pragmatic failure and communication breakdown. In order to help learners use L2 in a more native way, further instructions are necessary. This study ended up with implications and suggestions for future studies. Despite some limitations, this study has advanced the field of cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics, and has shed light on English teaching.

Topics: 中介語用學;語言行為;糾正語;中英文比較;跨文化;語用轉移;策略使用;言談情境填充問卷;尺度量表, interlanguage pragmatics;speech act;correction;Mandarin Chinese - American English comparison;cross-cultural;pragmatic transfer;strategy use;Discourse Completion Task;Scaled Response Questionnaire, [[classification]]30
Year: 2011
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