Requesting in Ukrainian: Native Speakers’ Pragmatic Behaviour and Acquisition by Language Learners

  • Author / Creator
    Sivachenko, Olena
  • The ultimate goal of second/foreign language (SL/FL) teaching and learning is to develop communicative competence, in which particular importance is placed on pragmatic competence. Pragmatic competence enables speakers to interpret and convey messages appropriately in a variety of communicative contexts. Despite its crucial role in communication, pragmatics has been largely overlooked in the SL/FL classroom. As such, the goal of this dissertation is to inform our understanding of the pragmatic behaviour of native speakers of Ukrainian and to contribute to teaching and learning pragmatics by exploring Ukrainian speech acts of requests from different perspectives. The dissertation consists of three independent studies that explore: i) the requestive behaviour of native speakers of Ukrainian, ii) the instructed acquisition of requests by second-year learners of Ukrainian at the post-secondary level, and iii) the learners’ perceptions of their own acquisition of requests.
    The first study investigates the strategies, structures, and linguistic realisation of speech acts of requests in accordance with the communicative situations in which they are used. The study demonstrates that speakers of Ukrainian employ direct, conventionally indirect, indirect, and combined strategies to formulate requests in various contexts. The choice of request strategies and substrategies, called structures, depends on a combination of the social variables of power, distance, and imposition as well as the type of communicative situation. These findings contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the requestive behaviour of native speakers of Ukrainian. The obtained corpus of requests is used to develop instructional materials for a pedagogical intervention in the subsequent, second study.
    The second study compares the effectiveness of three instructional approaches for the acquisition and retention of pragmatic competence, specifically, the ability of post-secondary second-year learners of Ukrainian to formulate contextually appropriate requests. This research contends that explicit pragmatics-focused instruction supplemented with educational podcasts is the most effective for the acquisition of oral pragmatic ability at the level of request comprehensibility. The analysis also shows that the social variable of distance is both acquired and retained better than imposition, while the social variable of power is the most challenging for both acquisition and retention.
    The third study examines the acquisition of pragmatic competence, targeted by the three instructional approaches in Study 2, from the learners’ perspective. The obtained results are mixed. Overall, participants’ perceptions of their ability to formulate contextually appropriate requests do not change significantly. This is due to insufficient practice. Learners also demonstrate an improved awareness of the importance of pragmatic competence and a strong desire to continue to learn about Ukrainian pragmatics. Participants identify role-play activities and structural exercises with podcasts as the most beneficial for the development of pragmatic competence.
    This dissertation adds to the underexplored field of Ukrainian pragmatics and contributes to the improvement of its teaching and learning in the SL/FL classroom. This project also broadens the current research on the integration of technology, podcasting technology in particular, into SL/FL courses.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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