Arab World English Journal (AWEJ)Special Issue: The Dynamics of EFL in Saudi Arabia, December 2019     Pp.96-114

Abstract PDF

Full Paper PDF


Refusal Strategies of Saudi EFL Undergraduate Students 

Wafa Ismail Saud
Department of English, Faculty of Languages and Translation
King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia





This study aimed to explore the refusal strategies used by Saudi English as a foreign language (EFL) undergraduate students as well as to examine the relationship of these strategies to social status in the situations of request, invitation, offer, and suggestion. It provided an answer to the research question, what are the strategies used by EFL undergraduate students when performing the speech act of refusal and whether these strategies vary according to status in the situations of request, invitation, offer, and suggestion?  The participants were 150 Saudi EFL students.  Data were derived using a discourse completion task.  It was composed of three request situations, three invitation situations, three offer situations, and three suggestion situations.  Each of those situations consisted of a refusal to a person of a higher status, another one for a person of equal status, and finally one for a person of a lower status.  Beebe et al.  (1990) taxonomy was selected as the most comprehensive one for the analysis of refusal strategies.  The results indicated that the most popular refusal strategies the participants used were the indirect ones, followed by the direct ones and then by adjuncts.  The results also revealed that the participants refused differently in each of the four types of situations.  On the other hand, the results showed that social status has no significant influence on their use of refusal strategies.  Based on these findings, some recommendations for the integration of pragmatic teaching were suggested to foster pragmatic competence among undergraduate students.
Keywords: Invitation, offer, refusal strategies, request, Saudi EFL students, social status, speech acts, suggestion

Cite as:  Saud, W. I. (2019). Refusal Strategies of Saudi EFL Undergraduate Students. Arab World English Journal, Special Issue: The Dynamics of EFL in Saudi Arabia.  96-114.


Wafa Ismail Saud holds a PhD in English from the faculty of Language and Linguistics,
University of Malaya, Malaysia. Her Master degree was in English as a second language from the
International Islamic University, Malaysia. Her Bachelor degree was in English language with
honor, from the College of Education, Makkah, Saudi Arabia. She is currently an Assistant
Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Languages and Translation, King Khalid
University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. ORCiD: