The realization of the speech act refusals and pragmatic competence development in Turkish EFL learners

Turkey, ID LLCE2015-257

The purpose of the present study is to investigate how Turkish learners of English at the lower- intermediate and upper-intermediate levels of proficiency realize refusals in English language and to investigate the areas of difference between native and non-native speakers of English, and also L2 proficiency affects possible pragmatic transfer or not. The participants of the study were composed of four groups: 9 low-level and 9 upper-level Turkish EFL learners, 9 Turkish and 9 British native speakers. All of them are undergraduate students. Data were collected using enhanced open-ended role-plays, which consisted of 6 scenarios eliciting refusals of offers and requests in lower- equal- upper status situations. Results showed that the majority of the participants mostly avoided using direct refusal; they used more polite, indirect strategies, “excuse/reason/explanation” instead of direct ones. Data also indicated pragmatic transfer in the realization of speech act of refusal among Turkish EFL learners. All findings revealed that L1 pragmatic transfer decreases with the increase of EFL proficiency. Additionally, EFL learners in both groups showed higher sensitivity to the status than native English speakers.

Keywords: Speech acts, pragmatic competence, refusals in English.