The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 18, No. 4, pp.395-422
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2018
Received 20 Oct 2018 Revised 10 Dec 2018 Accepted 16 Oct 2018

Anaphora Resolution Strategies in L2 Reading

Yeon Hee Choi* ; Herim Ahn ; Jinyoung Lee**
Professor, Dept. of English Education Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodaegil, Seodaemungu Seoul 03760
Graduate Student, Dept. of English Education Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodaegil, Seodaemungu Seoul, 03760
Graduate Student, Dept. of English Education Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodaegil, Seodaemungu Seoul, 03760

Correspondence to: Yeon Hee Choi Professor, Dept. of English Education Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodaegil, Seodaemungu Seoul 03760 Korea Tel: 0232772655 Email:
Co-authors : Graduate Student, Dept. of English Education Ewha Womans University 52 Ewhayeodaegil, Seodaemungu Seoul, 03760, Korea Email:


Choi, Yeon Hee, Herim Ahn and Jinyoung Lee. 2018. Anaphora resolution strategies in L2 reading. Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics 18-4, 395-422. This paper aims to investigate L2 learners’ strategies for anaphora resolution in reading by L2 proficiency levels and academic backgrounds and by anaphora types and inferential complexity levels of anaphoric ties. Data was collected using think-aloud protocols and mouse movements captured on the computer screen of 16 Korean EFL college students performing an anaphora resolution test. The participants were recruited from two proficiency levels and two academic disciplinary areas. Results revealed dominant anaphora resolution strategies shared by the participants due to the nature of anaphora resolution and simulated testing context, such as reading the prior sentence and translating the target sentence, regardless of anaphora types. Yet, they also presented variations in anaphora resolution strategy use by anaphora and reader variables. For pronouns with low ties the L2 students relied on reference chains, whereas syntactic constraints were prevalently deployed for pronouns with high ties. For demonstrative adjectives with low ties repeated noun phrases were preferred antecedents, while use of world knowledge and topic preference appeared as frequent strategies for those with high ties. The lower level students preferred to use semantic knowledge; the higher level ones utilized syntactic and discourse knowledge. The science majors tended to focus on local sentences, while the humanities majors, especially the higher-level students, read the whole passage before identifying the antecedent. Findings from the study suggest certain strategies are preferred depending on anaphora types and levels of ties as well as L2 learners’ proficiency levels and academic backgrounds.


anaphora, anaphora resolution, pronoun, demonstrative adjective, antecedent, reference, cohesion, cognitive process, strategies, L2 reading, EFL reading


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