The Impact of Age and Sex on the Refusal Strategies Used by Iranian EFL Learners

Shohreh Shahpouri Arani, Narges Soltani Tehrani


One major problem for non-native speakers is using refusals and because of this, second language teachers and others who communicate in that language should have the cultural differences in mind. When the interlocutors say “no” to a request or invitation, either directly or indirectly, they use speech act of refusal.  Refusal is considered a face threatening act, as there exists a kind of contradiction in it and is always realized indirectly. Thus, a high level of pragmatic competence is needed to realize it. The aim of this study is to find out whether the age and sex of Iranian learners have any effect on their used refusal strategies and if the existence of such an effect was demonstrated which group is more native like in terms of content and form of used strategies. To achieve this end, graduated students (male/female) of different age, sex and different fields of study were selected. Three groups of participants participated in this study. The first group includes 30 American English Speakers (A.E.S). The second group consists of participants whose ages were between 22-29 and the third group was a group of 30 participants of both sexes who speak English as a second language (sex is the only variable under study in this group). Using a Discourse Completion Test (DCT), a number of refusal situations were collected, responded by participants and analyzed. The results revealed that the age and sex of EFL learners does not have any significant effect on using refusal strategies.  


Speech Act, Refusal, Pragmatic Competence

Full Text:



Beebe, L. M., Takahashi, T., & Uliss-Weltz, R. (1985). Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals. Paper presented at The Second Research Forum. CA: San Francisco.

Beebe, L. M., Takahashi, T., & Uliss-Weltz, R. (1990). Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals. In R. Scarcella, E. Anderson, & S. Krashen (Eds.), Developing communicative competence in a second language (pp. 55-73). New York: Newbury house.

Chen, H. (1996). Cross-cultural comparison of English and Chinese metapragmatics in refusal. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University.

Cripper, C. & Widdowson, H. G. (1900). Sociolinguistics and language teaching. In J. P. B. Allen & S. P. Corder (Eds.), Edinburgh course in applied linguistic, Applied Linguistics, 20(2), 155-217.

Eslamirasekh, Z. (1992). A Cross-cultural comparison of the requestive speech act realization patterns in Persian and English. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Gumperz, J. J., Jupp, T. & Roberts, C. (1979). Crosstalk. London: Centre for Industrial Language Teaching.

Hatch, E., & Lazaraton, A. (1991). The Research Manual. Heinle & Heinle Publishers.

Lakoff, R. (1976). Language and Society. In R. Wardhaugh, & H.D. Brown (Eds.), A Survey of Applied Linguistics (pp. 207-228). University of Michigan Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.