Journal of Foreign Language Education and Technology

Pragmatic instruction may not be necessary among heritage speakers of Spanish: A study on requests

Abstract

Maria Jesus Barros Garcia, Jeremy W Bachelor

This paper studies the pragmatic competence of U.S. heritage learners
of Spanish in an attempt to determine (a) the degree of pragmatic transfer from
English to Spanish experienced by heritage learners when producing different
types of requests in Spanish; and (b) how to best teach pragmatics to students of
Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL). Additionally, the study compared the
differences and similarities between the development of the pragmatic
competence in SHL students and in students of Spanish as a second language
(L2). Oral and written discourse completion tasks were used to assess requests in
Spanish HL/L2 pragmatics. The results indicate that the pragmatic interventions
only helped the Spanish L2 group, and that the Spanish HL group was already
aware of the pragmatic principles that regulate requests in Spanish. Furthermore,
no cases of negative pragmatic transfer were found in the Spanish HL data, so
the study concluded that there is no need to teach heritage students pragmatic
norms.

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