English learners respond to tag questions: how eight adult English learners from six first languages interpret form, meaning, and use





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This study examined responses to English tag questions by eight adult learners from six first language backgrounds in order to understand how learners interpreted form, meaning, and pragmatic function. Responses indicated understanding of meaning and pragmatic intent even when responses did not exhibit correct polarity. Responses indicated that all six first languages follow the agreement-disagreement answering system for tag questions rather than the positive-negative system of English. Responses indicated common answering patterns including elaboration and expansion. Learners' responses were also interpreted as answering strategies to clarify meaning and respond to pragmatic intent. Stared context and content in a conversational setting were seen as essential for meaningful response, developing correct forms of response, and for interpreting pragmatic intent. Teaching suggestions are drawn from the findings of the study.

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