Exploring Pragmatic Failure into the Writing of Young EFL Learners: A Critical Analysis

  •  Peter Yunlin Muir    
  •  Zongfang Xu    


This present study provides overviews of the phenomenon in EFL writing instruction in basic education in mainland China, which in its natural sense never proceeds among young learners at high school level. Then it investigated 34 students’ short in-class compositions. Beyond many spelling and syntactic errors, their pragmatic failures are therefore categorized into pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic failures in accordance with Jenny Thomas (1983). It finds that pragmalinguistic failures are as follows: verbose appositions, combination of two subordinate clauses, misunderstandings of word meaning, Chinese construction of sentences, run-on sentences, independent subordinate clauses, the omission of relative pronouns and that sociopragmatic failure, considerably rare, lies in their perception and expression of specific Chinese-based pragmatic conventions. The author argues that the causes of pragmatic failure are their limited language proficiency and L1 pragmatic transfer.

Based on the investigation and findings of the study, the author puts forward some tentative solutions to achieve pragmatic appropriateness in writing: (1) Appropriate in-class introduction of target language pragmatic knowledge and culture; (2) The awareness of distinguishing the target language with L1.

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