Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. candidate (TEFL), Department of Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Yazd University, Iran


This study investigated the impact of individual differences like language proficiency, gender and age on the Iranian EFL learners interlanguage pragmatics in institutional discourse especially, their capacity to recognize and to rate pragmatic and grammatical infelicities in speech act situations of request and apology.  To this end, one hundred and eighty-seven EFL university students at three academic levels—undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD—participated in the study. Cross-sectional data collection was undertaken to analyze the relationship between the variables and the speech acts recognized and rated by learners at different proficiency levels. A three way between subject analyses (ANOVA) showed quantitative differences among the three groups according to individual differences. Further, in-depth analyses of test items indicated that EFL learners’ at the three proficiency levels identified and rated grammatical errors as more serious than pragmatic errors.  Results revealed qualitative, developmental information about the cognitive and individual traits followed in pragmatic awareness. One significant implication is that any account of the development of ILP should take into consideration the individual differences that will intervene between the stages of noticing and target like production.  Moreover, being linguistically competent is not only essential for the EFL learner but acquiring pragmatic competence is also important.


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    Situation 3: It is Anna’s day to give her talk in class, but she is not ready.

    Teacher: Thank you Steven, that was very interesting. Anna, it’s your turn to give your talk.

     Anna: No! Not now. I cannot do it today I will do it next week.

    1. Was the last part appropriate?     Yes             No.
    2. If there was a problem, how bad do you think it was?
    3. Please rate the sentence:   ____.____.____.____.___
    4. Is the sentence grammatically correct/incorrect or pragmatically correct/incorrect? 
    5. What is the status relationship between Peter and his instructor? Is it higher, equal or lower?
    6. Write the correct form of the sentence if you think it is incorrect.

    Situation 4: Peter goes to see his professor at his office. When he arrives, his professor is busy.

    Peter: (knocks on the door)

    Professor: Yes, come in.

    Peter: Hello, Mr. Gordon. Are you busy?

    Professor: Uhm . . . I am afraid so. Could you come back later?

    Peter: OK, I will be here tomorrow morning at 8.

    Situation 7: Anna goes to ask a lecturer to fill in a questionnaire. She knocks on the office door.

     Anna: (knocks on the door)

     Lecturer: Yes, come in. (Student sees: The lecturer is seated at her computer in her office typing) 

     Anna: Hello. My name is Anna Kovacs. If you do not mind, fill this in for me. 

    Situation 12: Mark has come to see his lecturer about his grades.

     Lecturer (female): Good morning! Yes, what can I do for you?

     Mark: Um, I have come about my grades for last term. I think it is too low. Are you sure, you corrected my paper?

    Situation 13: Bob has gone to see his lecturer about his research project.

    Lecturer: Come in. Please take a seat.

    Bob: Okay, look I have written the review of literature for my project, and I just want to check I’m on the right track.

    Situation 15: The students of the English class are going on a trip. The teacher asks Peter to help with the plans for the class trip.

     Teacher: OK, so we will go by bus. Who lives near the bus station? Peter, could you check the bus times for us on the way home tonight?

    Peter: No, I cannot do it tonight. I will live at my friend’s apartment this week.