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L2 Pragmatic Development in Study Abroad Contexts

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Wei Ren

Pragmatic competence plays a key role in intercultural communication, particularly for students studying in a target community. This book investigates the effect of study abroad on second language learners’ productive and receptive pragmatic competences, as well as their cognitive processes during speech act production. It employs a variety of research instruments, both quantitative and qualitative, to explore learners’ pragmatic development over one year. The inclusion of a control group is a methodological strength of the longitudinal study, many such studies often not including a control group. In addition, the study longitudinally examines learners’ cognitive processes during study abroad with innovative and insightful analyses. The book makes an important contribution to second language pragmatics with regard to developmental changes in both speech act production and perception during such processes.
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6 Development of pragmatic perception

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6 Development of pragmatic perception

The previous chapter focused on the effect of study abroad on the development of learners’ pragmatic production based on data elicited with the MET. The present chapter analyzes and discusses the results of the investigation into the effect of study abroad on the development of learners’ pragmatic perception. As discussed in Section 2.4, pragmatic perception in this study is operationalized as learners’ judgment of appropriateness of the utterances in a range of speech act situations. The data for the present chapter were elicited with the multimedia Appropriateness Judgment Task (AJT), supplemented with the retrospective verbal report (RVR) to obtain information about what learners actually focused on when they rated each AJT item.

To recap, in order to examine the development of the SA students’ pragmatic perception, data were collected longitudinally at three different points throughout the academic year 2009/2010 with the AJT and the RVR. To compare whether the development particularly benefited from the study abroad experience, a contrast group, the at home (AH) students, was examined three times as well with the AJT throughout the academic year 2009/2010. Due to logistical reasons, no RVR was employed among the AH students (refer to Section 4.2 for the construction of the instruments and Section 4.3 for the data collection procedure). That is, 20 SA students and 20 AH students rated the AJT. The two groups’ rating scores (i.e. how they rated the item along the appropriateness scale) were analyzed to observe whether...

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