Use of Refusal Strategies among Saudi EFL Students: An Investigative Study

  •  Ahmad Hatim Qadi    


The current study seeks to probe the use of refusal strategies and their frequency among Saudi EFL students of Bachelor of Science (BS) at Moon University (pseudonym), Saudi Arabia. Through a convenient sampling procedure, 20 students were selected, and Discourse Completion Test (DCT) was administered. This test comprised 12 situations eliciting refusals to suggestions, requests, offers, and invitations. Their answers were then coded using the refusal strategies categories laid down by Beebe, Takahashi & Uliss-Weltz (1990) and were analyzed via content analysis. Each participant’s refusal strategy for each speech act was analyzed using descriptive statistics, to discover exact frequency counts. The results indicated that the indirect refusal strategies were adopted by Saudi EFL students with greater frequency than the direct strategies even though Saudi culture is characteristically inclined towards directness resulting in numerous face-threatening acts. The results demonstrated the tendency towards the use of adjuncts by EFL students which to some extent indicated the cultural grooming of interlocutors. Moreover, lack of pragma-linguistic competence was reflected in flawed and ambiguous syntactic structures which impacted the clarity of meaning. The findings also suggested that in this globalized world where cross-cultural communication is unavoidable, the teaching of English should be geared towards the development of both pragma-linguistic and socio-pragmatic competence among EFL students.

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