Vol. 8. No. 2 A-1 September 2004
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Pragmatic Comprehension of High and Low Level Language Learners

Paula Garcia
Northern Arizona University


This study compares the performances of 16 advanced and 19 beginning English language learners on a listening comprehension task that focused on linguistic and pragmatic processing. Processing pragmatic meaning differs from processing linguistic meaning because pragmatic meaning requires the listener to understand not only linguistic information, such as vocabulary and syntax, but also contextual information, such as the role and status of the interlocutor (Rost, 2002). The study used a theoretical framework of pragmatic processing (Thomas, 1995) that included the comprehension of speech acts, in which the speaker tries to do something or get the hearer to do something (Searle, 1969), and conversational implicatures, in which the speaker expresses attitudes and feelings using indirect utterances that must be inferred by the hearer (Grice, 1975). T-test results indicate developmental differences in comprehension of pragmatic meaning. Pearson correlation results support construct differences between linguistic and pragmatic comprehension, and between the comprehension of speech acts and the comprehension of implicatures.

Keywords: ESL,EFL,second language acquisition, pragmatics, discourse analysis


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