A study of Chinese learners’ ability to comprehend irony

A study of Chinese learners’ ability to comprehend irony

Add to your calendar

Event type: Public Lectures

24 June 2021 from 4.00 pm - 5.00 pm 24 Jun 2021 4:00 pm 24 Jun 2021 5:00 pm

Hunter Lecture Theatre 119

COVID-19 Alert Level 2

This lecture will proceed as scheduled, but only the University's staff and students are permitted to attend in person, as our campuses are closed to the public under COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Those attending in person are required to follow Level 2 guidelines, including scanning QR codes, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing face coverings wherever distancing is difficult.

Members of the public will be able to attend virtually via Zoom. You will need to register to get the link: https://vuw.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_56uWeGvAQOeB5u4sqEiaQQ.

2021 LALS Public Lectures by Professor Rod Ellis (Curtin University)

Sponsored by the Ian Gordon Endowment Fund

Photo of Rod Ellis

The purpose of this study was to investigate Chinese University students’ ability to recognize irony. To this end, a test was developed that included literal and ironic items and focused on the students’ ability to identify which of the items were ironic. 112 first- and second-year Chinese university students completed the test, a C-test as a measure of language proficiency, and a language experience questionnaire. 24 native speakers (NSs) completed the irony test and C-test to provide a baseline for comparison.

Results showed that the learners’ scores were markedly lower than the NS’s on the ironic items but not on literal items. Both learners and NSs had difficulty with the positive irony items. The learners’ response times were also markedly slower than the NSs. There were significant but relatively weak correlations between the learners’ irony scores and their proficiency and the amount of time they had spent in an English-speaking country. Overall, the results of the study confirm the findings of previous studies, namely that irony is a late acquired aspect of L2 pragmatic competence.

I conclude that unlike NSs, even those learners with quite advanced language proficiency rely on explicit processing strategies to detect irony and propose explicit instruction is needed to help learners acquire the ability to recognize irony.

Register here to attend online via zoom.