Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures

Document Type



Traditionally, pragmatic aspects of the Spanish language are overlooked in the communicative classroom. Pragmatic competence is important because it may ultimately determine whether a successful communicative interaction takes place. Successful communication in language learning must not only address linguistic forms but also acknowledge language as a reflection of the socio-cultural norms of the L2 community. The research questions of this thesis explore the aspects of experience and instruction and their degree of influence as they relate to the development of pragmatic competence. This thesis reports on the results of a pedagogically-based, empirical study in which the researcher investigated the extent to which course level, study abroad, and pedagogical intervention facilitate the development of pragmatic competence of L2 learners when making a request in Spanish. Two main aspects of politeness, pronominal address forms and verbal forms, were examined to measure the learners’ level of pragmatic competence. Whether responses were pragmatically-appropriate were based on the responses of native speakers of Spanish. The results of this study reveal that learners who have more experience or exposure to the language, or explicit classroom instruction do not necessarily possess a higher degree of pragmatic competence than those who have not. These findings suggest that perhaps grammatical competence and pragmatic competence may develop separately and at differing rates. Further research and attention to the various factors surrounding pragmatic competence is necessary in the language educator’s goal to aid the student towards acquisition of overall communicative competence.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

King, Jeremy