Effects of social status on American and Taiwanese EFL learners’ production of English refusals


Shu-Chu Chen


National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan


Shu-hui Eileen Chen


National Taipei University of Education, Taiwan


This study investigated cross cultural differences and the effect of social status on refusal strategies used by forty Taiwanese EFL learners and forty native speakers of American English in two situations of higher and lower status using Discourse Completion Task (DCT). Their responses were analyzed based on the taxonomy developed by Beebe, Takahashi & Uliss-Weltz in terms of their preferred refusal patterns, direct and indirect refusals. Results showed that Americans tended to use the refusal pattern with reasons and offering alternative in refusing someone’s suggestion whereas Taiwanese EFL learners preferred using the combination of apologies and reasons. Additionally, both groups favored indirect refusals, however cross-cultural differences in the substrategies of indirect refusals were found. Secondly, social status affects their strategy choice for both groups. Americans used more apologies when refusing an inferior’s suggestions whereas they used more alternative, avoidance or acceptance in refusing a superior’s suggestion. For EFL learners, higher frequencies were found in offering alternatives, setting conditions for future/past acceptance, or dissuading interlocutor in refusing inferiors’ suggestions. On the other hand, more reasons or avoidances were found when students refused his superiors’ suggestions. Findings of this study can be used in EFL instruction and integrated into curriculum design.


refusal speech acts; Taiwanese EFL learners; pragmatics

Publication Date

March 15, 2007


Volume 1, Issue 1

Citation information

Chen, Shu-Chu, and Shu-Hui Eileen Chen. 2007. “Effects of social status on American and Taiwanese EFL learners’ production of English refusals.” Language. Text. Society 1 (1): e8-e26. https://ltsj.online/2007-01-1-chen-chen-01. (Journal title at the time of publication: SamaraAltLinguo E-Journal.)


author = {Chen, Shu-Chu and Chen, Shu-Hui Eileen},
title = {{Effects of social status on American and Taiwanese EFL learners’ production of English refusals}},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2007},
volume = {1},
number = {1},
pages = {8–26},
url = {https://ltsj.online/2007-01-1-chen-chen-01/},


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