Pragmatic Development of Chinese EFL Learners—A Study on FL Suggestions

Tongqing Gu


While the number of studies on the pragmatic development of nonnative English speakers has been increasing, surprisingly little research has been conducted on the development of the ability of foreign language learners to perform the suggestion speech act, with even less taking Chinese EFL learners as the target group. The present study examines the development of Chinese EFL learners’ pragmatic competence by investigating their performance of the suggestion speech act over time. Three sub-corpora representing three different periods of Chinese EFL learners’ performance were selected from the SECCL (Spoken English Corpus of Chinese Learners) to discover the changes in the use of linguistic formulae as well as suggestion strategies by Chinese EFL learners. Their performance was then compared with that of native English speakers to find out whether there was evidence of improvement across the years. The results show that (1) changes were taking place in the use of linguistic formulae and suggestion strategies by Chinese learners from 1997 to 2003, with greater changes taking place from the year 2000 to 2003, and (2) there was evidence of increasing similarity between Chinese learners’ performance of the suggestion speech acts and that of native English speakers. It can thus be concluded that Chinese learners’ pragmatic ability in English improved to some extent over the years of the study.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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