The Socio-Pragmatic, Lexico-Grammatical, and Cognitive Strategies in L2 Pragmatic Comprehension: The Case of Iranian Male vs. Female EFL Learners

Document Type : Original Article


1 English Language Department, Faculty of Humanities, Imam Khomeini International University (IKIU), Qazvin

2 Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics, Golestan University, Gorgan, Iran


Since its inception, pragmatic competence has been studied vastly; the majority of these studies, however, have examined pragmatic production, and pragmatic comprehension is chiefly under- researched. This lack of adequate research also stands true for the underlying pragmatic comprehension processes and strategies. Therefore, the present investigation aimed to find out L2 pragmatic comprehension strategies used by 40 (F=20, M=20) Iranian EFL learners and to discover whether there would be any differences between interlanguage pragmatic comprehension strategies used by male and female learners. Participants, selected based on stratified random sampling, were chosen on the basis of their performance on a paper-based TOEFL out of the initial sample of 90 students. Three data collection instruments were employed: a validated pragmatic test (Tajeddin & Ahmadi Safa, 2010), concurrent verbal think-aloud protocols, and retrospective verbal think-aloud protocols. Data analysis revealed three classes of pragmatic comprehension strategies. First, socio- pragmatic strategies that included politeness, formality, indirectness, and distance/power influences. Second, lexico-pragmatic strategies which were more frequent than grammatical strategies in the second category. Third, the cognitive strategies that comprised both top-down and bottom-up processing strategies in L2 pragmatic comprehension. Furthermore, it was found that gender did not play any significant role in the use of pragmatic comprehension strategies. Study findings suggest that explicit teaching of pragmatic comprehension strategies helps learners promote their L2 pragmatic comprehension.