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The Effect of L2 Proficiency and Study-Abroad Experience on Pragmatic Comprehension


  • I wish to thank the students who participated in this research and for the instructors in the research site who assisted me with data collection. Thanks also go to the associate editor, Scott Jarvis, and three anonymous reviewers of Language Learning for their constructive feedback. I am also grateful for Marc Siskin for his technological assistance and Courtney Sutter for proofreading the manuscript. I am responsible for all the errors that may remain. This study was funded by a Language Learning Small Research Grant.

Naoko Taguchi, Modern Languages Department, Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 160, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890. Internet:


This cross-sectional study examined the effect of general proficiency and study-abroad experience on pragmatic comprehension in second-language English. Participants were 25 native English speakers and 64 Japanese college students of English divided into three groups. Group 1 (n = 22) had lower proficiency and no study-abroad experience. Group 2 (n = 20) and Group 3 (n = 22) had higher proficiency than Group 1 but differed in their study-abroad experience. Group 2 had no study-abroad experience, but Group 3 had a minimum of 1 year of study-abroad experience in an English-speaking country. They completed a pragmatic listening test measuring their ability to comprehend conventional and nonconventional implicatures. Group performance was compared for the comprehension accuracy scores and response times. There was a significant effect of proficiency on response times but no effect of study-abroad experience. Comprehension accuracy scores revealed mixed findings. It was advantageous for students to have study-abroad experience in the comprehension of nonconventional implicatures and routine expressions but not in indirect refusals.