L2 Cantonese pragmatic development of Pakistani pre-school children in Hong Kong

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Conference Proceeding

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Works by Berman & Slobin (1994), Ninio &Snow (1996) and Blum-Kulka & Snow (2002), Rose (2000 &2009) and Achiba (2003) have suggested that the study of pragmatic development, for example, request forms used by children will provide important information on the discourse abilities of children. Many of the previous studies were done in English speaking contexts where English was learnt by the target children as L1 or L2. Not much research on L2 Cantonese pragmatic development of preschool children has been conducted. In this presentation, we reported some significant findings of a cross-sectional and longitudinal study of L2 Cantonese request development of 90 Pakistani children (aged 3-5 and 30 in each group) who studied in mainstream kindergartens in Hong Kong*. Data were collected through role play between the researcher and the target children. The L2 Cantonese pragmatic development of the Pakistani participants were observed by comparing data collected in times 1 and 2; with a time gap of six months. Data were coded and analyzed by making reference to Blum-Kulka and her associates in the Cross Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP). Results showed that (i) less than 5% of the youngest group (aged 3) could speak very little Cantonese when they first entered Cantonese medium kindergartens in Hong Kong; (ii) a variety of request strategies emerged from these children after six months (data in time 2), and their pattern of development of Cantonese request strategies was very similar to that of the older Pakistani children (aged 4 in time 1) and Cantonese-speaking peers (aged 3 in time 1); and (iii) social variables such as familiarity and imposition have influenced the use of request forms by the participants. These findings will be further discussed in relation to works on pragmatics and second language development of young children.

Source Publication

International Conference on Bilingualism, 2015 Mar 23-25, Valletta, Malta

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