The sociocultural ontogenesis of international students’ use of pragmatic strategies in ELF academic communication: Two contrasting case studies

Shuyuan Liu, Celeste Kinginger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous empirical studies have demonstrated that speakers of English as a lingua franca (ELF) display flexible use of various pragmatic strategies (PSs) to support effective communication. However, to date few studies have investigated PSs usage from the perspective of individual ELF speakers. Supported by a Vygotskian Sociocultural ontogenetic view on lingua franca pragmatics, this paper offers two qualitative case studies exploring the use of PSs by first-year international students as they navigated ELF-mediated group-work in a multilingual classroom at an internationalized university. Research questions include: a. what PSs did the students employ to facilitate effective ELF group-work? b. how might the students' enactments of PSs relate to their experiences of using ELF beyond this multilingual classroom? Analyses of classroom discourse data revealed distinct patterns of PSs usage: One participant's use of strategies was proactive-oriented in types and function, whereas for the other these strategies tended to be oriented toward remedying current communicative problems. Further ontogenetic analysis of interview data suggests that the differences between the two students' PSs deployment in classroom ELF academic interactions may be mediated by their contrasting prior ELF-related experiences and perceptions beyond the immediate classroom context. These findings indicate significant individual variation in speakers' pragmatic behaviors during ELF negotiations and point to the sociocultural-historical origins of lingua franca pragmatic competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-381
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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