EFL Learners' Sensitivity to Linguistic and Discourse Factors in the Process of Anaphoric Resolution

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Young Researchers Club, Khorasgan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan, Iran

2 Department of English, Islamic Azad University, Khorasgan, Iran


The readers' ability to integrate current information with given information has been considered as an important component of reading comprehension process. One aspect of this integration process involves anaphoric resolution. The purpose of this study is to investigate the process of anaphoric resolution, focusing on inferential rigidity of different types of anaphoric ties. Ninety EFL learners were selected from the accessible population of undergraduate EFL students at a university in Iran. In this study an anaphoric resolution test, containing 30 different expository texts, was used. The participants were asked to underline the antecedents of the anaphors. Once the data was collected and scored, it was subjected to a number of appropriate statistical procedures. The Results of the analysis of variance revealed a significant effect of different types of anaphoric ties, F (4, 87) = 10.28, p


Al-Jarf, R. (2001). Processing of cohesive ties by EFL Arab college students. Foreign Language Annals, 34, 141-150.
Ariel, M. (1990). Accessing noun-phrase antecedents. London: Routledge.
Davoudi, M. (2005). Inference generation skill and text comprehension. The Reading Matrix, 5, 106-123.
Dongmei, Z., & Lei, M. (2007). The integrative factors of anaphoric inference during reading process. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 39, 225-234.
Fortanet, I. (2004). The use of 'we' in university lectures: reference and function. English for Specific Purposes, 23, 45-66.
Garrod, S. C., & Sanford, A. J. (1994). Resolving sentences in a discourse context. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 675–698). New York: Academic Press.
Genc, B., & Bada, E. (2006). Oral narrative discourse of anaphoric references of Turkish EFL learners. The Reading Matrix, 6, 135-143.
Givón, T. (1983). Topic continuity in discourse: An introduction. In T. Givón (Ed.), Topic continuity in discourse: A quantitative cross-language study (pp. 5-41). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Gordon, P. C., & Chan, D. (1995). Pronouns, passives, and discourse coherence. Journal of Memory and Language, 34, 216-231.
Gordon, P., Grosz, B., & Gilliom, L. (1993). Pronouns, names, and the centering of attention in discourse. Cognitive Science, 17, 311-347.
Graesser, A. C., Millis, K. K., & Zwaan, R. A. (1997). Discourse comprehension. In J. Spence, J. Darley, & D. Foss (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology (pp. 163–189). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman.
Kaiser, E., Runner, J. T., Sussman, R. S., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2009). Structural and semantic constraints on the resolution of pronouns and reflexives. Cognition,  112, 55-80.
Kennison, S. M. (2003). Comprehending the pronouns her, him, and his: Implications for theories of referential processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 335-352.
Klin, C. M., Weingartner, K. M., Guzman, A. E., & Levine, W. H. (2004). Readers’ sensitivity to linguistic cues in narratives: How salience influences anaphor resolution. Memory & Cognition, 32, 511-522.
Lee, J. H. (2004). The role of syntactic cues in pronoun referential resolution: The effects of number and gender cue. The Korean Journal of Cognitive Science, 15, 27-35.
Nuttall, C. (1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Oxford: Heinemann.
O’Brien, E. J., Raney, G. E., Albrecht, J. E., & Rayner, K. (1997). Processes involved in the resolution of explicit anaphors. Discourse Processes, 23, 1–24.
Packenham, K. J. (1980). The resolution of lexically-reinforced anaphoric reference and its relation to reading in English as a second language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, Russia.
Paterson, K. B., Sanford, A. J., Moxey, L. M., & Dawydiak, E. (1998). Quantifier polarity and referential focus during reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 39, 290-306.
Pretorius, E. J. (1996). A profile of causal development amongst ten-year-olds: Implications for reading and writing. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 8, 385–406.
Pretorius, E. J. (2005). English as a second language learner differences in anaphoric resolution: Reading to learn in the academic context. Applied Psycholinguistics, 26, 521–539.
Shin’ichi, I. (2009). An analysis of referential expressions in written English narratives. Bull. Coll. Edu., Ibaraki Univ. (Edu. Sci.), 58, 139-158.
Yang, Y. F., Wong, W. K., & Yeh, H. C. (2008). A computer system of referential resolution to assess students’ reading comprehension. Educational Technology & Society, 11, 173–189.