THE EFFECT OF STUDY ABROAD ON THE ACQUISITION OF PRAGMATICS: A COMPARISON OF REQUESTS MADE BY L2 SPANISH GRADUATE STUDENTS
This study investigates the effects of study abroad on the acquisition of the pragmatics, specifically, the speech act of requests, by advanced second language learners. The participants included seven graduate students that completed their first year of a master’s program in Spanish in Mexico or Spain and who were compared to six native Spanish speakers. The participants completed a Language Contact Profile (Freed, Dewey, Segalowitz & Halter, 2004) to gather data about their language experiences while studying abroad and a Discourse Completion Task Questionnaire containing ten situations to which the respondents wrote requests. The investigation focused on six aspects of these requests: speaker- or hearer-orientation, pronouns of address, the use of the courtesy marker por favor, verbal forms, requestive verbs, and the number of words in the speech act. The results found that although advanced learners of Spanish in general make requests in a native-like manner, errors still exist in their use of particular linguistic aspects of the language. The learners tend to underutilize the hearer orientation, the predominate orientation in Spanish, in some situations and overuse it in others. Learners who studied in Spain also tend to overuse the informal pronoun tú while the students who studied in Mexico overuse the formal pronoun usted. The advanced learners do not use the courtesy marker in most requests, although some situations led to its use when native speakers did not utilize por favor in the speech act. Those who studied in Spain tend to overuse the present tenses and those who studied in Mexico use the conditional and the present in non-native-like patterns. All learners use poder, ser posible, and tener in their requests more than natives, who use a variety of verbs such as importar, hacer el favor, and necesitar, absent in speech acts by the non-native speakers. Finally, in nearly all of the situations, the learners use significantly fewer words than the natives. These findings may help improve study abroad programs and language classes by demonstrating the need for explicit pragmatic teaching, even for advanced students. Furthermore, for the field of Second Language Acquisition, these results add to the knowledge about advanced learners and how they acquire pragmatic competence while studying abroad.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:linguistics pragmatics second language acquisition study abroad advanced learner spanish request
Date of Publication:01/01/2006