Development of speed and accuracy in pragmatic comprehension in english as a foreign language

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86 Scopus citations


This study examined development of pragmatic comprehension ability across time. Twenty native speakers and 92 Japanese college students of English completed a computerized listening task measuring ability to comprehend two types of implied meaning in dialogues: indirect refusals (k = 24) and indirect opinions (k = 24). The participants' comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (scores on the listening task) and comprehension speed (average time taken to answer each item correctly). L2 learners' accuracy and comprehension speed improved significantly over a 7-week period. However, the magnitude of effect was lower for comprehension speed than for accuracy. This study also examined the relationships among general L2 proficiency (measured on the ITP TOEFL), speed of lexical judgment (measured on a word recognition task), and pragmatic comprehension ability. There was a significant relationship between proficiency and accuracy (r = 0.39), as well as between lexical access speed and comprehension speed (r = 0.40). However, L2 proficiency bore no relationship to comprehension speed, and lexical access speed had no relationship with accuracy. Moreover, accuracy and comprehension speed were not related to each other. These findings suggest that development of pragmatic knowledge and processing capacity of using the knowledge may not coincide perfectly in L2 development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-338
Number of pages26
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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