Language, as one of the main tools for communication among humans, holds a crucial role on understanding and expressing the world around us and beyond. In line with the recent shifts of focus from grammatical and linguistic competence to communicative competence and development of pragmatic ability in teaching and learning second or foreign languages, research on speech acts, especially apologies, has been the concern of L2 researchers. The common conception among L2 practitioners is that with an increase in L2 learners’ proficiency, their pragmatic ability also increases. With reference to this position, the present study was conducted in order to explore the probable effects of proficiency level and also gender on Iranian EFL learners’ use of apology strategies. To this ends, 89 university students were asked to take part in the study. An OPT was used to determine their proficiency level. Then, a researcher made Discourse Completion Task (DCT) was distributed among the participants. Using the framework suggested by Cohen and Olshtain (1983), results of chi-square test revealed that proficiency level is not a determining factor in the learners’ use of different apology strategies. The findings also indicated that only males and females at the lower-intermediate level of proficiency differ in their use of apology strategies. These results highlight the significance of attending to apology strategies in L2 classrooms and raising L2 learners’ awareness of the existence of various strategies to apologize so that they could expand their knowledge of speech acts.
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