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The acquisition of politeness by young EFL learners in France : an exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development

Abstract : This study of interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) investigates empirical data on English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in French secondary schools to contribute to our understanding of the development of second language (L2) politeness. With the increase in multilingual interactions around the globe, awareness of what is polite or impolite has become indispensable. However, pragmatic skills are generally not easily acquired in foreign language settings. The observation that even advanced learners do not necessarily exhibit target-like norms has led to calls for further investigation (Kasper & Schmidt, 1996; Bardovi-Harlig, 1999). Although there is now a solid body of research in this area, most studies have focused on adult learners (Kasper & Rose, 1999) using written discourse completion tasks (see e.g., Hill, 1997; Billmyer & Varghese, 2000; Su, 2010; Jebahi, 2011) to elicit explicit pragmatic knowledge (Bardovi-Harlig, 1999; 2013). The present study seeks to extend the scope of ILP research by focusing on a large group of young, beginning learners using mixed methods including a cartoon oral production task, open-ended role plays, and naturalistic data from classroom video recordings. Participants were some 240 secondary school learners at three different levels (age 11 to 18) to allow the tracking of ILP development with language proficiency. To contextualise findings, secondary data was collected in the form of additional analysis of classroom films, textbook analysis, and teacher interviews. The analysis of request data is based on the seminal L2 discourse analytic framework cross-cultural speech act research project (Blum-Kula et al., 1989) which allows the analysis of both pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic dimensions of requests. L2 pragmatic development was observed almost exclusively in terms of increased frequency of pragmalinguistic strategies, particularly by the end of upper secondary school, less so in terms of range of strategies or sociopragmatic features, and this across all data collection methods. French baseline data (L1) revealed similar development, suggesting that L1 transfer may be one explanation for the L2 development observed in the study, particularly since analysis of secondary data revealed little focus on ILP in teaching programs.
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Aisha Siddiqa. The acquisition of politeness by young EFL learners in France : an exploratory study of interlanguage pragmatic development. Linguistics. Université Côte d'Azur, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018AZUR2007⟩. ⟨tel-01980536⟩

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