Document Type: Original Article


Department of English, Islamic Azad University, Maybod Branch, Yazd, Iran


This paper, anchored in interlanguage pragmatics, studied the effects of individual differences such as language proficiency, gender, and age on the production of speech act of requests in institutional discourse. To this end, 187 Persian EFL university students at three academic levels (undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students) participated in this study. Triangulation was undertaken to collect and analyze the data in three phases. In phase one, through convenience sampling, the Oxford Placement Test was employed to identify the proficiency level of the students. In phase two, a three way ANOVA between subject analyses showed quantitative differences among the three groups. In the third phase, in-depth qualitative analyses of test items and retrospective verbal reports (RVRs) revealed developmental information about the cognitive and individual traits followed in pragmatic awareness. Results showed that sociocultural, socio-psychological, and socio-affective aspects of the discourse situations influenced not only students’ pragmalinguistic and sociolinguistic choices but also their negotiation of lexical and grammatical forms in planning the requests. One significant implication is that not only linguistic competence is essential for the EFL learner, acquiring pragmatic competence is also important.


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