Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Islamic Azad University, Tehran-west Branch, Humanities Faculty

2 Texas A & M University

3 Allameh Tabataba'i University


Among topics in the field of pragmatics, some seem to be in a more rigorous need of investigation. Pragmatic assessment and specifically the issue of pragmatic rating are among issues which deserve more thorough consideration. The purpose of this study was to examine rater criteria and its consistency and variability in the assessment of Iranian EFL learners’ production of compliments based on the teachers’ gender and teaching experience of the Iranian non-native English speaking raters (INNESRs). The data for this study were collected through WDCTs rating questionnaire from sixty Iranian EFL teachers and were later analyzed through descriptive statistics, t-tests and Chi-squares. The results of the study showed that Iranian EFL teachers consider seven macro criteria when rating EFL learners’ pragmatic productions regarding the speech act of compliment. The criteria include “politeness”(26.37%), “interlocutors’ characteristics and relationships” (22.83%), “variety and range” (19.68%), “sociopragmatic appropriateness” (14.17%), “sincerity” (10.23%), “complexity” (9.84%), and “linguistic appropriacy” (8.66%). The results of the t-test and chi-squares further showed that whereas there was no significant difference in the teachers’ ratings based on their gender and teaching experience, the difference was significant in the frequency of rating criteria provided by the raters. To conclude, the results of the study reinforces the need for rater training regarding the assessment of pragmatic productions based on pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic norms.


Alemi, M. (2012). Patterns in interlanguage pragmatic rating: Effects of rater training, intercultural Proficiency, and self-assessment. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran.
Bachman, L. F. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bachman, L. F., & Palmer, A. (2010). Language assessment in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Dornyei, Z. (1998). Do language learners recognize pragmatic violations? Pragmatic versus grammatical awareness in instructed L2 learning. TESOL Quarterly, 32(2), 233-262.
Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Hartford, B. S. (1997). Beyond methods: Components of second language teacher education. The McGraw-Hill Second Language Professional Series: Directions in second language learning. New York: McGraw Hill.
Beebe, L. M., & Takahashi, T. (1989). Sociolinguistic variation in face-threatening speech acts: Chastisement and disagreement. In M. Eisenstein (Ed.). The Dynamic Interlanguage: Empirical Studies in Second Language Variation (pp. 199-218). New York: Plenum.
Blum-Kulka, S. (1982). Learning to say what you mean in a second language: a study of the speech act performance of Hebrew second language learners. Applied Linguistics, 3(1), 29-59.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language. Cambridge: Cambridge University.
Canale, M. (1983). From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. In R. Schmidt, & J. C. Richards(Eds.). Language and communication (pp. 2-27). London: Longman.
Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 1-47.
Cohen, A. D., & Olshtain, E. (1981). Developing a measure of sociocultural competence: The case of apology. Language Learning, 31(1), 113-134.
Coates, J. (2004). Women, men, and language: A sociolinguistic account of gender differences in language. Longman/Pearson, Harlow, Essex.
Daikuhara, M. (1986). A study of compliments from a cross-cultural perspective: Japanese vs. American English.  Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 2(2), 103-134.
Eslami-Rasekh, Z. (2005). Raising the pragmatic awareness of language learners. ELT Journal, 59(2), 199-208.
Eslami, Z. R., & Eslami-Rasekh, A. (2008). Enhancing the pragmatic competence of non-native English-speaking teacher candidates (NNESTCs) in an EFL context. Investigating Pragmatics in Foreign Language Learning, Teaching and Testing, 30(2), 178-197.
Golato, A. (2003). Studying compliment responses: A comparison of DCTs and recordings of naturally occurring talk. Applied Linguistics, 24(1), 90-121.
Hobbs, P. (2003). The medium is the message: Politeness strategies in men’s and women’s voice mail messages. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(2), 243-262.
Holmes, J. (1995). Women, men and politeness.  London: Longman.
Holmes, J. (1986). Compliments and compliment responses in new Zealand English.    Anthropological Linguistics, 28(4), 485-508.
Hudson, T., Brown, J. D., & Detmer, E. (1995). Developing prototypic measures of cross-cultural pragmatics (Vol. 7). Natl Foreign Lg Resource Ctr.
Huth, T. (2006).  Negotiation structure and culture:  L2 learners’ realization of L2 compliment–response sequences in talk-in-interaction.  Journal of Pragmatics, 38(12), 2025-2050.
Jianda, L. (2006). Assessing EFL Learners' Interlanguage Pragmatic Knowledge: Implications for Testers and Learners. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 5(1), 1-22.
Kasper, G. (1981). Pragmatische aspekte in der interimsprache. Tubingen: Gunther Narr.
Kasper, G. (1998). Interlanguage pragmatics. In H. Byrnes (Ed.). Learning Foreign and second languages: Perspectives in research and scholarship (pp. 183-208). New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
Oller, J. W. (1979). Language tests at school: A pragmatic approach. London: Longman.
Manes, J., & Wolfson, N. (1981). The compliment formula. In C. Florian (Ed.). Conversational routine: Explorations in standardized communication situations and pre-patterned speech (pp. 115-132). The Hague: Mouton.
Niezgoda, K., & Rover, C. (2001). Pragmatic and grammatical awareness: A function of the learning environment? In K. R. Rose, & G. Kasper (Eds.). Pragmatics in language teaching (pp.63-79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pasternak, M., & Bailey, K. M. (2004). Preparing non-native and native English-speaking teachers: Issues of professionalism and proficiency. In L. D. Kamhi-Stein (Ed.). Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on non-native English-speaking professionals (pp. 155-176). Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
Roever, C. (2005).  Testing ESL pragmatics. Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.
Roever, C. (2006). Validation of a web-based test of ESL pragmalinguistics. Language Testing, 23(2), 229-256.
Roever, C. (2007). DIF in the Assessment of Second Language Pragmatics. Language Assessment Quarterly, 4(2), 165-189.
Rose, K. R. (1997). Pragmatics in the classroom: Theoretical concerns and practical possibilities. In L. F. Bouton (Ed.). Pragmatics and language learning (pp. 267-295). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sharifian, F. (2005). The Persian cultural schema of shekastehnafsi: A study in compliment responses in Persian and Anglo Australian speakers. Pragmatics and Cognition, 13(2), 338-361.
Tajeddin, Z., & Alemi, M. (2013). Criteria and bias in native English teachers’ assessment of L2 pragmatic appropriacy: Content and FACETS analyses. The Asia Pacific Education Researcher. DOI 10.1007/s40299-013-0118-5
Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 91-112.
Widdowson, H. (1978). Teaching language as communication. London: Oxford University Press.
Wolfson, N. (1981). Compliments in Cross‐Cultural Perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 15(2), 117-124.
Wolfson, N. (1983). An empirically based analysis of complimenting in American English. In  N. Wolfson and E. Judd (Eds.). Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (Issues in second language research), (pp. 82-95). United States: Newbury House Publication.
Wolfson, N., & Manes, J. (1980).  The compliment as a social strategy.  Papers in Linguistics: International Journal of Human Communication, 13(3), 391-410
Yamashita, S. O. (1996). Six measures of JSL pragmatics. Honolulu: Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center of University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Yoshitake, S. S. (1997). Measuring interlanguage pragmatic competence of Japanese students of English as a foreign language: A multi-test framework evaluation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia Pacific University, Novata, CA.
Yu, M. (2005). Sociolinguistic competence in the complimenting act of native Chinese and American English speakers: a mirror of cultural value. Language and Speech, 48(1), 91-119.