The effect of study abroad on the pragmatic development of the internal modification of refusals

Wei Ren

Abstract

Few studies have investigated the internal modification of refusals. This study investigates the effect of participating in a study abroad programme on the pragmatic development of Chinese students’ employment of internal modifiers in their L2 English refusals. 20 Chinese students studying abroad and 20 Chinese students remaining at home participated in the study, and their L2 refusals were examined over the course of one academic year. Data were collected three times by an 8-situation Multimedia Elicitation Task. The results reveal that the two groups showed similar development with regard to the range of internal modification types in their refusals. Furthermore, with respect to the frequency of internal modifications, the results suggest that the differences between the two groups were not significant. However, analyses of the participants’ use of individual internal modifications revealed different developmental patterns in the utilisation of ‘address term’ and ‘downtoner’. These patterns indicate a unique effect of studying abroad on learners’ pragmatic development, at least with respect to the aforementioned pragmatic aspects.

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