The effect of studying abroad on the use of pragmatics: a case study on Dutch learners of English

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Studying abroad is generally seen, by scholars as well as the general public, as a way to improve people’s linguistic skills in a language they are learning. Studying abroad provides opportunities to come into contact with the culture of the second language and to have interactions with native speakers of that language, which will very likely increase people’s proficiency and competence. Previous research showed that studying abroad has a positive effect on learners’ linguistic development. However, this does not necessarily mean that learners of a second language who do not study abroad and who stay in the country of their first language cannot develop their linguistic skills in the same way. The present thesis focuses on this topic by investigating whether there is a difference in pragmatic use between a group of learners who studied abroad, and a group of learners who stayed in the country of the first language. In total, 42 participants completed a questionnaire in which they were asked to answer questions about their study abroad periods (if applicable), and about the appropriateness of English pragmatic utterances in certain situational contexts. Participants were (ex-)students of the bachelor English Language and Culture at Radboud University and all had Dutch as (one of) their first language(s). Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the pragmatic use of the participants who studied abroad and the participants who stayed in the Netherlands. This means that studying abroad had no effect on the pragmatic use of the participants of this particular study.
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