Investigating Interlanguage Pragmatic Competence in a Chinese EFL Context

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Lan Xu
Anchalee Wannaruk


Interlanguage pragmatic (ILP) competence is vitally important for EFL learners to avoid embarrassment which could happen in an interaction between speakers from different cultural backgrounds. The present research aimed to investigate the EFL learners’ ILP competence and its variations by gender while conducting speech acts, understanding conversational implicature and performing routines. The participants were 390 Chinese English majors. The data was collected with the ILP competence test and semi-structured interviews. The ILP competence test was developed for the Chinese context by the present researchers. The quantitative data were analyzed by using descriptive statistics and independent T-test. The qualitative data were analyzed with content analysis. The results indicated that the EFL learners’ ILP competence was at the medium level. Significant differences existed at the overall level and in conducting speech acts and performing routines at the category level according to gender. Significant differences were also found in the four aspects of conducting speech acts: 1) correct speech acts, 2) typical expressions, 3) amount of speech and information, and 4) levels of formality, directness and politeness. In addition, in some individual items in understanding conversational implicature and performing routines, significant differences were found. Overall, the females performed better than their male counterparts.


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