Cognition, language contact, and the development of pragmatic comprehension in a study-abroad context

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155 Scopus citations


This study examined two issues: (a) whether there are gains in accurate and speedy comprehension of second language (L2) pragmatic meaning over time and (b) whether the gains are associated with cognitive processing ability and the amount of language contact in an L2 environment. Forty-four college students in a US institution completed three measures three times over a 4-month period: (a) the pragmatic listening test that measured the ability to comprehend implied speaker intentions, (b) the lexical access test that measured ability to make speedy semantic judgment, and (c) the language contact survey that examined the amount of time learners spent in L2 outside the class. The learners' pragmatic comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (the scores on the pragmatic listening test) and comprehension speed (the average time taken to answer items correctly). Results showed that the learners made significant improvement on comprehension speed but not on accuracy of comprehension. Lexical access speed was significantly correlated with comprehension speed but not with accuracy. The amount of speaking and reading outside class that the students reported on the language contact survey significantly correlated with the gains in comprehension speed but not with accuracy of comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-71
Number of pages39
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Accuracy and fluency
  • Conversational implicatures
  • English as a second language
  • Interlanguage pragmatics
  • Language contact
  • Learning context
  • Lexical access
  • Listening
  • Longitudinal study
  • Pragmatics
  • Speech acts
  • Study-abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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