The Effect of Study-Abroad on Pragmatic Transfer

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This study aims to investigate the effect that studying abroad may have on pragmatic transfer in requests, refusals, and expressions of gratitude, produced by Japanese learners of English. Twenty-two Japanese college students completed a multimedia elicitation task (MET) before and after studying in the US for one semester, together with twenty-two L1 English speakers and twenty L1 Japanese speakers as baseline data. The MET is a computer-based instrument for eliciting oral data. Unlike previous studies on pragmatic transfer, which often lack statistical evidence, this study includes statistical analysis. The analysis revealed that negative pragmatic transfer occurs within a limited range. The identified transfer includes pragmalinguistic transfer, whereby, assuming that their politeness levels are equal, learners directly translate L1 expressions into L2; and sociopragmatic transfer, whereby learners transfer L1 discourse patterns and functions. Resistance to L2 norms and increased fluency can be influencing factors. The results indicated that the effect of study-abroad is limited because most of the negative transfer which was identified before studying abroad remained after studying abroad. Thus, the necessity of explicit pragmatic instruction was proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalChinese Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • pragmalinguistic transfer
  • pragmatic transfer
  • sociopragmatic transfer
  • study-abroad


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