A Case Study on the Relationship between Individual Differences and English Pragmatic Competence of Non-English-Major Chinese Postgraduates

Caifen Chen


In the field of pragmatics, a lot of research has been done concerning the pragmatic failures committed by college students. Little research is oriented to the non-English-major postgraduates (NEMP). For that reason, this paper attempts to study the pragmatic competence of NEMP, especially the relationship between pragmatic competence and their individual differences, such as gender differences and differences among different majors, age and working experience. A questionnaire was administrated to 115 non-English-major postgraduates in East China University of Technology (ECUT) in China. The questionnaire consists of an English pragmatic competence test with 25 multiple choices, which was selectively taken from He Ziran’s study (1988). By using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, the study offers the following findings: the general level of NEMP’s pragmatic competence is quite low at present, but with their developing cultural awareness, they do a better job in sociopragmatic competence than that in pragmalinguistic competence; there are significant differences between different genders and their pragmatic competence, with the females’ pragmatic competence higher than males’, while the differences among majors, age and working experience are not so significant in the participants’ English pragmatic competence. The paper also offers some suggestions for postgraduates’ English teaching: using different teaching methods should be considered; Input of English pragmatic knowledge in proper contexts and making best use of Internet should be increased as well; the postgraduates’ individual differences should also be treated appropriately in English teaching.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/elr.v6n1p58


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English Linguistics Research
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