CHILDREN'S USE OF REQUESTS IN CHINESE (L1) AND ENGLISH (L2): A CASE STUDY IN TAIWAN
Committee ChairLiu, Jun
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMuch research on requests has been carried out among L1 Chinese adults, L1 Chinese children, L1 children, L2 adults, and L2 children, but no studies to date have simultaneously examined Chinese children's requests in Chinese (L1) and English (L2). The aim of this study is to investigate how Taiwanese elementary school children vary requests according to situation, language, age, and hearer variables, and the level of consistency between the child interview results and the validation results. Semi-structured individual interviews with child participants were used as the major method for data collection. Naturalistic school and home observations, interviews with parents and teachers of the children, audio and video recordings, and field notes were also included to validate and triangulate the child interview data, which were coded and analyzed using a modified version of the CCSARP coding scheme and an excellent level of intercoder reliability was reached.Results indicate that overall: (1) requests made under rights-protecting situations seem to be more direct and reasonableness-based than those made under favor-asking situations, (2) Chinese requests appear to be more direct and elaborate than English requests, (3) older children are more likely than younger children to frame direct, brief, and tactful requests, (4) child hearers are more likely than adult hearers to receive direct requests, and (5) for an individual child, the child interview and validation findings appear to be compatible, except that consistency is low regarding requests given to classmates. The results lend strong support to the claim that language use can be highly context-specific as can the request performance of children. This study may bring new insights into understanding the complexity of Chinese children's requests, thus sensitizing educators and parents to the significance of pragmatic competence in Chinese children's earlier development of language, whether Chinese or English, and helping them provide instructions that better suit children's pragmatic development and ability.
Degree ProgramSecond Language Acquisition & Teaching