Requests and refusals are well-acknowledged as challenging speech acts even when realized in native interactions owing to their intrinsic nature of being facethreatening. It is therefore conceivable that producing such social responses would be an arduous task for foreign language learners. Against this background, the present study set out with an aim to examine the politeness in the production of and perception of requests and refusals by six secondary-level EFL learners in Hong Kong under different degrees of social distance and social status, with prospective English teachers and native speakers as the control group. A discourse-completion task and a survey served as the instruments to elicit quantitative data. Results were analyzed with reference to Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory, which proposes four types of politeness strategies, namely bald on-record, positive politeness, negative politeness and off-record strategy. Findings suggested that intermediate learners had an overuse of direct strategy to threaten both positive and negative face of interlocutors, while advanced learners were reported to be too conventionally indirect in general. Plausible explanation was the insufficient coverage of certain topics at schools. The paper hence demands educational adjustment in relevant aspects to improve learners’ pragmatic performance.
II. LITERATURE REVIEW