The role of learning environment in the development of pragmatic comprehension

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Abstract

This study examines the role of environment in the development of pragmatic comprehension. It tracks two groups of Japanese students of English: 60 students in a college in Japan (English as a foreign language [EFL] learners) and 57 students in a college in the United States (English as a second language [ESL] learners). The learners completed a computerized listening task that measured their ability to comprehend two types of implied meaning: indirect refusals (k = 24) and indirect opinions (k = 24). The task was given to each group twice, before and after the students received approximately 120-130 hr of classroom instruction. Comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (scores) and speed (average time taken to answer each item correctly). Results showed that, in both learner groups, accuracy and comprehension speed improved significantly over time. For the EFL group, the magnitude of effect was much less for speed than for accuracy. In contrast, ESL learners showed significant improvement in comprehension speed, with a sizable effect size, but only marginal improvement in accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-452
Number of pages30
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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