Performance of Iranian EFL Learners on Compliment Response Speech Acts in English

| October 17, 2011
Performance of Iranian EFL Learners on Compliment Response Speech Acts in English

Keywords: speech act, compliment response, Iranian learners of English, proficiency

Roya Safdarian and Akbar Afghari
Esfahan Payame Noor University and Sheikhbahaee University

Bio Data
Roya Safdarian teaches General English, EAP, and TEFL at Esfahan Payame Noor
University, Esfahan, Iran.
Dr. Afghari is Assistant Professor of TEFL at the Faculty of Foreign languages of
Sheikhbahaee University, Esfahan, Iran

Intercultural communication presents many challenges, one of which refers to the need to create awareness about the importance of understanding speech acts crossculturally. A speech act is an utterance that performs a locutionary and an illocutionary meaning in communication. For example, I like your dress is a speech act concerning a proposition about a person s dress with the illocutionary force of a compliment (Ellis, 1994, p.724). However, the response to this compliment varies in different cultures because cultural difference has an impact on compliment response types. Speech acts are considered universal; nevertheless, researches show that they
can be manifested differently across languages and cultures. This cross-cultural difference in language use is indicative of broader socio-cultural differences that underlie language in use internationally and certainly it is at this level that much intercultural misunderstanding has its origin. Accordingly, this research was designed to address the three following questions: (i) what are the differences between compliment responses of Iranian learners of English and those of native speakers of American English?; (ii) what is the relationship between EFL proficiency and appropriate use of English compliment responses?; and (iii) what are the similarities and differences between compliment response patterns of the Iranian and American females and males? In order to answer these questions, an Oxford Placement Test (OPT) was used to place participants in appropriate proficiency groups. A Discourse Completion Test (DCT) was used to collect compliment responses of the participants. The frequency of occurrence of each of the compliment responses were compared employing a chi-square test. Moreover, the Iranian compliment responses were checked against the findings of the study done between Thai and American responses to compliments in English (Cedar, 2006). As for the first research question, the analysis of the data revealed that there were response pattern differences between the Iranian and American participants regarding compliment response speech act, but the difference between compliment responses given by Iranian learners of English and English native speakers was not statistically significant. As for the second research question, the findings indicated a relationship between EFL proficiency and
appropriate use of English compliment responses. Finally, for the third question, the findings revealed that there were statistical differences between Iranian and American females and males in the use of compliment responses. The study suggests that language and culture should be taught simultaneously. Thus, EFL teachers should show the learners how to appropriately respond to an English compliment. This study provided a useful tool for a teacher of English to raise students awareness of cultural similarities and differences between compliment/response patterns in Iranian and English cultures.


See pages 21-45

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Category: Monthly Editions, Volume 55