PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES AND PRAGMATIC CHANGE IN A SECOND LANGUAGE CONTEXT: THE CASE OF REQUESTS
Palabras clave:pragmatic competence, speech acts, interlanguage pragmatics
Pragmatic competence is considered to be part of a non-native speakers (NNSs) communicative competence and has been included in the models of communicative ability (Canale and Swain, 1980; Bachman, 1990; CelceMurcia et al., 1995. This paper examines learners’ development of pragmatic competence in a second language context. Fifteen Spanish students who had spent a term at the University of Liverpool as Socrates students and three native English University lecturers participated in the study. A total of 30 sessions (10 upon arrival, 10 mid-study and 10 at the end) were taped and transcribed with the consent of participants. Evidence for the realization of the speech act of requesting is examined within the framework of status congruence (Bardovi-Hartford, 1990), taking into account frequency and form in native and non-native advising sessions. Then, on the basis of the theoretical condition for language learning (Pica, 1994, 1996), we analyze non-native speakers’ change towards native speaker’s ability of requesting. Results of the study show that, although learners moved towards using more requests, they failed to develop the full range of request strategies and appropriate linguistic forms. Results of the study indicate that native speakers' input and learners’ opportunities for output are not enough for pragmatic development, and a focus on form (Doughty and Williams, 1998) regarding appropriate forms of the speech act of requesting is suggested.