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A study of the second-language socialization of university-level students : a developmental pragmatics perspective Matsumura, Shoichi

Abstract

The present study focused on changes over time in university-level Japanese students' sociocultural perceptions of social status during their year abroad in Canada, and the impact of such altered perceptions on their perceptions at subsequent time points. The sociocultural perception to be examined was perceived "social status" which Brown and Levinson (1987) discussed as a contributory factor in the perception of social asymmetry, power and authority. The study attempted to examine (1) whether (and to what extent) Japanese students, before they came to study in Canada, had recognized English native speakers' understanding of social status and had learned how to offer advice appropriately in English to individuals of various social statuses, (2) what proportion of differential pragmatic development among Japanese students in Canada was accounted for by their English proficiency and amount of exposure to English, and (3) whether (and to what extent) living and studying in Canada facilitated Japanese students' pragmatic development, which was assessed by the degree of approximation to native speech act behavior in various advice-giving situations repeated during the course of an academic year. To this end, the study compared the development of Japanese exchange students' pragmatic competence during their year abroad in Canada with peers in Japan who did not undertake a year abroad.

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