Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of TEFL, University of Isfahan

2 MA Student, University of Isfahan

3 Assistant Professor, University of Isfahan


This study aims to examine the cross-cultural similarities and differences in the use of rapport management strategies (rapport enhancement, rapport maintenance, rapport neglect, and rapport challenge) in the complaints during service encounters based on Spencer Oatey’s (2008) model. To this end, 90 participants (30 Persian native speakers, 30 Iranian EFL (English as a foreign language) learners, and 30 English speakers) were asked to complete a role-play Discourse Completion Task in four different situations. The study argues that: (1) the use of rapport management strategies is universal; all the groups used all kinds of rapport management strategies; (2) the use of rapport management strategies is culture-specific; the participants in each group differently used the intended strategies; and (3) the socio-pragmatic competence of EFL learners is sometimes different from that of the native speakers of English; it goes through developmental stages and is influenced by L1 norms. The study concludes that teachers should condition the communicative tasks used inside the class with factors such as the relationship among the interlocutors to help EFL learners develop a pragmatic competence comparable to that of the native speakers. Teachers can also resort to modern technologies to provide EFL learners with the opportunity to communicate with native speakers and receive feedback with regard to the cultural appropriacy of the forms produced.


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