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A Corpus-Based Analysis of I Think in Taiwanese EFL Learners and English Native Speakers: Research from the ICNALE Spoken Data

Ming-Hung Kao
National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan


This study investigates and compares the use of I think in spoken monologues by Taiwanese EFL learners and English native speakers in the corpus ICNALE (The International Corpus Network of Asian Learners of English). The main research questions are: (1) How frequently do Taiwanese EFL learners and English native speakers use the phrase I think in spoken monologues? (2) What are the functions of I think used by Taiwanese EFL learners and English native speakers? The study analyzed the frequency of I think based on the framework of Verdaguer (2015) and Fortanet (2004) and applied AntConc 3.5.9 software to extract each of I think produced by Taiwanese EFL learners and English native speakers. Each I think was categorized based on its function in context: cogitation, opinion, or hesitation. The findings show that Taiwanese EFL learners use more I think in their speeches than English native speakers (279 vs. 169). This finding may be consistent with Xu and Xu’s study (2007), in which they found that EFL learners such as Chinese speakers tend to overuse I-perspective expression to express their opinions while English Native speakers prefer to use you-perspective. The results also demonstrate that the opinion function of I think is most frequent in both sup-corpora. In addition, both sub-corpora display that the conjunctions (e.g., and, so) are often associated with the opinion function of I think to convey their perspectives. Moreover, the hesitation pauses (e.g., um, uh) and repeated words coming with I think show that speakers are not sure of what to say or how to say in the hesitation function. This study provides critical pedagogical implications for raising learners’ awareness of the use of I think.


I think; ICNALE; Learner Corpus

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023