L2 Cantonese Chinese request strategies of Pakistani preschoolers in Hong Kong

Yuen Fan Lornita WONG, Cheung Shing Sam LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Request is a prominent daily life speech act which a speaker manipulates appropriate linguistic forms to make a hearer perform an action to fulfill the speaker’s needs. Variations in the use of request forms will normally reflect a speaker’s pragmatic competence; i.e. language and culture. Research findings by Rose (2000 & 2009), Achiba (2003), Dewart and Summers (1995) and Ellis (1992) have pointed out that request forms used by young children provide a lot of important information about the pragmatic development of young children in their L1 and/or L2 learning. Previous research on pragmatics has concentrated on the learning of English or other European languages as a second language by adult learners. Not much has been known about pragmatic development among young children learning a second language. As a result of internationalization and global mobility of people, it is getting common that some children start learning a second language in early years for schooling adaptation in the host country. In recent years in Hong Kong, the lack of research evidence in inter-language pragmatics, with special regard to child language (i.e. Cantonese as L2) development, has made it difficult for policy-makers and educators to make decision on the Chinese language (as L2) education instruction and intervention for education equity of ethnic minority children studying in mainstream schools. This paper aims at examining (i) the relationship between L2 Cantonese pragmatic knowledge (language proficiency and cultural knowledge) and Pakistani preschoolers’ expression of Cantonese request strategies; (ii) the relationship between Pakistani parents’ Cantonese proficiency and their children’s Cantonese request strategies; (iii) the difference in the ability of using Cantonese request strategies by Pakistani preschoolers at different grade levels in kindergarten; i.e. K1, K2 and K3. All discussions in the paper are based on findings from an on-going research project which is cross-sectional in nature. Data are collected twice in one year from Pakistani children attending Cantonese medium mainstream kindergartens at K1, K2 and K3 grade levels. Data on preschoolers’ Cantonese request strategies are elicited through role-play between the interviewer and subjects by using toys. Cantonese proficiency of Pakistani parents’ is measured by self-assessment and is collected by questionnaire. The coding of request data is based on and adapted from Blum-Kulka, House, & Kasper’s (1989) classification of requests in their Cross-Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
EventThe 13th International Pragmatics Conference: "Narrative pragmatics: Culture, cognition, context" - New Delhi, India
Duration: 08 Sept 201313 Sept 2013


ConferenceThe 13th International Pragmatics Conference: "Narrative pragmatics: Culture, cognition, context"
CityNew Delhi


Wong, Y. F. L., & Leung, C.-s. S. (2013, September). L2 Cantonese Chinese request strategies of Pakistani preschoolers in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 13th International Pragmatics Conference: Narrative pragmatics: Culture, cognition, context, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India.


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