Interactional features of Chines EFL learners' discourse in a paired speaking test: implications for L2 teaching and testing
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 18:43 authored by Liandi Liu
Interactional competence is an important component of language ability yet its acquisition constitutes one of the greatest challenges to many Chinese learners of English, who are typically regarded as having rules of speaking and social norms at variance with those of western native English speakers. This thesis examines the interactional competence displayed by Chinese EFL learners in the paired task of the Public English Test System Level 5 Spoken English Test (PETS-5-SET) in China, where approximately 1.2 million Chinese take this English proficiency test annually. The primary aim of the thesis is to identify the interactional features of Chinese EFL learners' discourse in dyadic conversation by using conversational analytic techniques (CA). It also compares the traits of Chinese students' interactions in the paired task with those of Australian students to discern similarities and differences between the two groups. -- Data were collected from 60 Chinese and 30 Australian university students by conducting a mock oral test in the form of paired discussion. The discourse performances were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively, focusing on three key dimensions: generic structure, interactional patterns, and turn-taking behaviour. -- The findings indicate both clear similarities and striking differences in the interactional behaviour of the two groups. Similarities were found in four areas, i.e., global sequential organisation, topic development moves, floor-taking strategies, and topic change mechanisms. However, differences were also identified in five major aspects: rhetorical style, interactional patterns, turn-taking behaviour, conversational devices, and listener responses. The similarities are largely due to the institutionalised, goal-oriented nature of the task and the differences result mainly from four major factors: the adoption of different interactional patterns, the application of culturally-preferred conversational styles, differences in underlying interactional competence in English, and diverging perceptions of the oral task. The study has significant implications for such areas as research on EFL spoken interaction, interactional competence theory, L2 teaching and testing, and world Englishes.