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Individual, Contextual, and Interactive Factors in Second Language Comprehensibility

Date & Time:
February 1, 2019 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
CHD 420
Dr. Pavel Trofimovich (Concordia University, Montreal)

A growing belief in the field of second language speech learning is that successful communication (generally measured through mutual understanding achieved by interlocutors) should be prioritized over matters of linguistic accuracy or nativelikeness, especially if learners’ goal is to communicate successfully in academic and workplace settings.

In this talk, I will critically examine second language comprehensibility (listeners’ perceived ease or difficulty in understanding speech) as one construct central to this argument. Although comprehensible second language speech appears to be a straightforward target attainable by most learners, it is a complex phenomenon linked to individual differences across many cognitive, social, and experiential factors, both for the speaker and the listener. I will highlight the complexity of comprehensibility from meta-cognitive, linguistic, social, and assessment perspectives and will discuss some implications of research on comprehensibility for the teaching and learning of second language pronunciation.

Pavel Trofimovich is Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Education at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His research focuses on cognitive aspects of second language processing and learning, the acquisition of pronunciation and speaking skills by second language learners, sociolinguistic aspects of second language acquisition, and the teaching of second language pronunciation. He has published extensively in many top scholarly venues in the fields of language learning, psycholinguistics, and language teaching, and is a co-author of three books on the use of psycholinguistic research methods in second language research and on assessment of second language pronunciation. He currently serves as Journal Editor of Language Learning