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A Longitudinal Investigation into L2 Learners’ Cognitive Processes during Study Abroad

Applied Linguistics 2014:35/5:575–594ßOxford University Press 2013doi:10.1093/applin/amt019Advance Access published on 13September 2013

A Longitudinal Investigation into L2

Learners’Cognitive Processes during

Study Abroad

1,2, *WEIREN

1Center for Linguistics &Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China and 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

*E-mail:renweixz@http://www.doczj.com/doc/f9923a60f18583d048645912.html

The present study longitudinally investigates the cognitive processes of advanced L2learners engaged in a multimedia task that elicited status-equal and status-unequal refusals in English during their study abroad. Data were collected three times by retrospective verbal report from 20Chinese learners who were studying abroad over the course of one academic year. The results revealed that the learners reported paying increasingly more attention to socio-pragmatics in context when they responded to each situation of the task. Furthermore, the study showed the effect of study abroad on the learners’per-ceptions of the factors affecting their pragmatic productions across the three phases. These effects were reflected by the decrease in pragmatic difficulties and the increase in pragmatic knowledge reported by the learners. This article demonstrates that using the retrospective verbal report at different points during learners’study abroad allows the examination of the changes in the cognitive processes involved in L2pragmatic production.

INTRODUCTION

Nearly two decades ago, Robinson (1992:31) noted that second language (L2)pragmatics research ‘hasgenerally based its descriptions of language use on an analysis of learner performance rather than on an examination of cognitive processes’.An examination of recent L2pragmatics literature suggests that there has been no significant change in this situation. Analyses of learners’cognitive processes involved in the production of speech acts are still lacking. Although Robinson (1992)indicated that verbal reports did elicit specific in-formation regarding learners’cognitive processes, to date, only a few studies of L2pragmatics have examined learners’cognitive processes in the performance of speech acts (Cohenand Olshtain 1993; Widjaja 1997; Fe ´lix-Brasdefer2008a; Hassall 2008; Woodfield 2010, 2012). The limited number of studies on lear-ners’cognitive processes in L2pragmatics reveals an important area of researc
h yet to be explored. Furthermore, little research has been conducted investigat-ing such processes longitudinally.

Nearly two decades ago, Robinson (1992:31) noted that second language (L2)pragmatics research ‘hasgenerally based its descriptions of language use on an analysis of learner performance rather than on an examination of cognitive processes’.An examination of recent L2pragmatics literature suggests that there has been no significant change in this situation. Analyses of learners’cognitive processes involved in the production of speech acts are still lacking. Although Robinson (1992)indicated that verbal reports did elicit specific in-formation regarding learners’cognitive processes, to date, only a few studies of L2pragmatics have examined learners’cognitive processes in the performance of speech acts (Cohenand Olshtain 1993; Widjaja 1997; Fe ´lix-Brasdefer2008a; Hassall 2008; Woodfield 2010, 2012). The limited number of studies on lear-ners’cognitive processes in L2pragmatics reveals an important area of research yet to be explored. Furthermore, little research has been conducted investigat-ing such processes longitudinally.

Study abroad, in which learners study the L2in the target culture, is widely perceived as an ideal context in which to develop language competence at Zhejiang Normal University on January 12, 2015http://www.doczj.com/doc/f9923a60f18583d048645912.html /Downloaded from

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