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Intercultural Pragmatics

Editor-in-Chief: Kecskes, Istvan

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Volume 4, Issue 2


Pragmatic development in the Spanish as a FL classroom: A cross-sectional study of learner requests

J. César Félix-Brasdefer
Published Online: 2007-08-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.013


This study investigates the development of requests from the beginning of foreign language instruction to advanced levels of proficiency in face-to-face interactions. Data were collected from three learner groups (American learners of Spanish) (45 learners [15 per group: beginning, intermediate, advanced]). Open role plays were used to collect data in four request situations. Data were analyzed for request head acts (direct, conventional indirect, non-conventional indirect), the request perspective, and internal and external modification. Findings indicate that the beginner group produced the largest number of direct requests. They, thus, showed little competence in situational variation. These direct requests were often realized by means of verbless requests, statements of need, imperatives, and requests with an infinitive used as a main verb. In contrast, a strong preference for conventionally indirect requests was observed among intermediate and advanced learners in formal and informal situations, with a decline in direct requests noted to appear with increasing proficiency. Four stages of pragmatic development among learners in a FL context were identified and discussed in light of existing research in pragmatic development. This study also addresses the issue of the primacy of pragmatics over grammar in expressing pragmatic intent, formula research in interlanguage pragmatics, and pragmatic development in the FL classroom.

About the article

J. César Félix-Brasdefer

J. César Félix-Brasdefer is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Second Language Studies. He teaches courses in Spanish and Linguistics and specializes in the areas of discourse and interlanguage pragmatics, politeness, speech act theory, and linguistic variation. His publications have appeared in Journal of Pragmatics, Language Learning, Multilingua, Proceedings of the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, as well as book chapters. He has also co-edited Pragmatics and Language Learning, Vol. 11 (2006).

Published Online: 2007-08-13

Published in Print: 2007-06-19

Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 253–286, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/IP.2007.013.

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