Refusals in L2 English: Proficiency effects on appropriateness and fluency

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

17 Scopus citations


This study investigates effects of general proficiency on production of refusals. Fifty-nine Japanese college students of English at two different proficiency levels (proficiency determined by TOEFL scores) were evaluated for their ability to produce a speech act of refusal in a spoken role play task. The task elicited four refusals (refusals to invitation, offer, request, and suggestion) in two item types: formal and informal situations. Learners’ refusals were analyzed for overall appropriateness and fluency. Appropriateness was assessed quantitatively by rating performance on a six-point scale, as well as qualitatively by identifying the directness levels of the linguistic expressions used to produce refusals. Fluency was examined for speech rates (average number of words per minute). Results revealed a significant proficiency influence on both appropriateness and fluency, but only a marginal difference in the types of linguistic expressions used between the two proficiency groups. There was an interaction between proficiency and item type: proficiency effect was larger for formal situation refusals than for informal situation refusals on both appropriateness and fluency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUtrecht Studies in Language and Communication
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameUtrecht Studies in Language and Communication
ISSN (Print)0927-7706

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Communication


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