Learner Background Factors and Learning of the Second Language Pragmatics

The authors of the article “Learner background factors and learning of the second language pragmatics” seek to explain the extent to which several factors affect the ease with which an individual learns a new language. The article reports the findings of an investigative research that sought to establish the effect of factors such as the length of time an individual has resided among the people who speak the foreign language, proficiency, gender, ability to recognize routine formulae as well as speech act production in English.  

According to the authors Proficiency in second language can not only be limited to the learner’s grammatical knowledge of the target language but includes the learner’s linguistic ability to analyze and present ideas in a manner that is appreciated in the target language. The length of time that a learner resides among the target community, on the other hand, gives the learner an opportunity to exercise the target language in different roles of speech. The article however points out that mere physical presence among the target group does not guarantee the learners quick learning of the target language. Other factors such as the willingness and ability of the learner to contact and interact with the target community are crucial in the learning process (Rover C, Wang S & Brophy S, 2014)

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Whereas the article acknowledges that there is little research that has been done on the effect of gender on the ease of learning a second language, the authors still acknowledge that female learners have exhibited a greater ability to learn as compared to their male counterparts from the few researches that have been carried out.

The article further highlights that routine expressions help the learner to socialize with the target community and hence learn faster.

In summary, the research carried out find out that proficiency played a greater role in learning a second language as compared to time of residence. The effect of gender was found to be much smaller than was expected.

The main problem that the article addresses is the extent to which factor such as gender and time of residence affect learning and performance of pragmatics. The article seeks to clear the uncertainty surrounding the level of impact of various factors affecting pragmatic competence. 

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The major argument presented by this article is the fact that several factors affect the rate at which an individual learns a second language with varying degrees. The author seeks to prove that proficiency have a greater impact on an individual’s ability to learn a new language as compared to the other factors. The authors also identify gender as a factor with the least but noticeable influence on the learner’s ability to learn a new language. According to the author, proficiency plays a greater role in implicature comprehension. The article further argues that proficiency as well as length of residence affects to a greater extent the level of routine formulae recognition.

One of the assumptions that the authors of this article makes is that group membership is equivalent to proficiency. The article therefore assumes that 4th year learners are more proficient as compared to their counterparts in 3rd year, 2nd year and 1st year (Rover C, Wang S & Brophy S, 2014)

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In defending their arguments, authors of this article have presented a structured research project and subsequent statistical data that demonstrate their point of view. The research involves formulation of a questionnaire that seeks to establish the effect of length of residence, gender, proficiency level as well as multilingualism on the ability of learners to recognize routine formulae in the target language comprehend implicature and create speech acts.

The regression estimates obtained in the initial set of data indicated that the multilingual coefficient had no significant impact over the three regression series. The research indicated that every additional month of residence led to 0.1% in the score of the learner’s implicature. The article therefore argues that residence is an insignificant contributor the learner’s implicature score. The findings of the research further indicate that female learners are able to learn at a rate 10% higher than their male counterparts (Rover C, Wang S & Brophy S, 2014)

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. This, according to the authors, is an insignificant contributor to the learner’s implicature score. The research interprets group membership as proficiency. Going by this interpretation, the research found out that 4th year learners had double implicature scores compared to their 3rd year counterparts. Proficiency therefore bears the greatest impact on the learners implicature score and hence ability to learn a new language. The findings further indicate that time of residence has a greater impact on routine phrases as compared to implicature. Every additional month of residence led to a 0.3% improvement in routine.

One of the major strengths of the article is that, in proving their point, the authors have used poison Regression as a tool of study and have generated statistical data to prove their point. This has given the article factual authenticity as opposed to an otherwise plain argument without statistics to back up the claims. On the study however, the sample size is too small and may not necessarily reflex the reality on the ground. This is therefore a major weakness in the presentation of the argument in this passage. The counter argument would be that time of residence should have a greater contribution individual’s ability to learn a new language as compared to the other factor.

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In conclusion the authors of the articles have tried their best to prove their point of argument that proficiency has a greater impact on an individual’s ability to learn a new language as compared to the other factors.

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