Offers by Greek FL learners: A cross-sectional developmental study

Spyridoula Bella


This study investigates developmental patterns in the ability of Greek foreign language learners to make offers. Drawing data from role-plays and retrospective verbal reports it attempts to explore the initiative offer strategies, the syntactic modification and the degree of insistence that learners of three different proficiency levels (lower intermediate, intermediate and advanced) employ when performing offers in two symmetrical (-P, -D) and two asymmetrical (+P, +D) situations. The results suggest that, although there is a great deal of grammatical and pragmalinguistic development regarding both initiative offer strategies and syntactic modification devices, this does not guarantee concomitant levels of sociopragmatic development (cf. Bardovi-Harlig 1999). Specifically, it is shown that learners of increased proficiency tend to overgeneralise complex grammatical structures like interrogative constructions and the conditional in situations in which NSs employ more direct and simple grammatical means in order to achieve a solidarity effect. Furthermore, the learners appear to lag far behind NSs in the appropriate use of insistence. The findings of the study lend support to both the developmental stages of pragmatic competence acknowledged in the relevant literature (Ellis 1992; Achiba 2003) and to Bialystok's (1993) model regarding the acquisition of pragmatic competence.

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