Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 233 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Istvan Kecskes

Committee Members

Elly Ifantidou, Monika Kirner-Ludwig


English language learners, modality, peer feedback, pragmatic competence, English language, Pragmatics, Competence and performance (Linguistics)

Subject Categories

Language and Literacy Education


The aim of the study is to identify characteristic features of modality use as demonstrated by intermediate and advanced English Language Learners (ELLs), to examine the change, if any, in the characteristic set of features of modality use by advanced as compared to intermediate ELLs, and finally to explore the factors triggering identified modality use as demonstrated by advanced ELLs while they provide evaluation and suggestions in the context of peer feedback. This cross-sectional, developmental, mixed-method study of sequential-explanatory design relied on a new theoretical framework to guide research on pragmatic competence – one for all language codes –, a discourse functional concept-oriented approach for the analysis of language use by ELLs, and on both qualitative and quantitative data in its attempt to get a nuanced understanding of the nature and elements of the pragmatic competence development as related to modality. Additionally, this study recruited the population to be inclusive and representative of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds. The results of the study point to the developmental, but at the same time dynamic and complex, nature of pragmatic competence related to modality. While advanced ELLs showed much more alignment with the expected modality use in the context of peer feedback than intermediate group, they still demonstrated their own unique pattern of modality use. The possibility of identifiable pattern of modality at each proficiency level regardless of ELLs’ affiliation with a particular socio-cultural group ruled out the effect of L1 as the only or most decisive factor affecting ELLs’ pragmatic language use and development in L2. The same was true for the lack of meta-pragmatic knowledge, since ELLs were well aware of the expected modality use. This study revealed the following factors to be worth considering for the explanation of characteristic modality pattern by ELLs: a partially synergized network of tightly related synergic concepts, resistance and the effect of subconscious and unreflective habitus.