Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Marjorie Zambrano-Paff, Ph.D.


In this qualitative research study, the author investigated the pragmatic experiences of five Saudi graduate students as they were pursuing their Master's degrees in English in one American university. The author used narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) to co-construct the five participants' narratives in terms of sociality (type of interaction), temporality (time of interaction), and locality (place of interaction) dimensions. The study recalled the students' past experiences in Saudi educational contexts, explored how they were negotiating pragmatic experiences in the United States, and shed light on how the participants felt that these experiences might impact their future pedagogical practices in Saudi Arabia. The study was conducted to promote awareness of pragmatics among Saudi teachers and professors, so their students could gain the English grammatical skills coupled with the sociolinguistic knowledge needed to communicate with others appropriately. The narrative inquiry utilized four collection methods (i.e., individual interviews, an electronic blog, multiple self-recorded reflections, and a focus group). The data was collected over seven months and yielded 12 hours of audio recordings from three of the methods (totaling 267 pages of transcriptions) and 58 pages of blog postings. This dissertation consists of five chapters. The first two chapters set the scene for the research by introducing the background of the study and reviewing relevant literature on pragmatics. The third chapter details the methodological layout, including the author's positionality, a description of the research context, and the data collection methods. The fourth chapter presents the narratives of the five participants in separate sections to keep their voices as unique individuals. The fifth chapter illustrates a number of themes that emerged across several narratives. The study findings highlight that more efforts are needed in teacher education programs in Saudi Arabia to integrate pragmatic topics in their pedagogies. Politeness, indirect speech, negative transfer, and nonverbal communications are some of the common challenges the participants faced during their interactions in the United States. This chapter suggests some pedagogical implications for English teachers in the Saudi EFL context (e.g., broadening their pragmatic knowledge through self-study, using materials that mirror authentic language, and arranging ample participation opportunities).