Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

John I. Liontas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Philip Smith, Ph.D.


cultural competence, idiomatic and figurative language, idiomatics competence, second language acquisition


Everyday language consists of many idiomatic and figurative expressions. For non-native English speakers to achieve native fluency, control of idiomatics—native speech that includes the use of both idiomatic and figurative language—is paramount. In this study, I aimed to explore the use of comics and comic strips in the learning and comprehension of L2 (second language) idiomatics. Seldom has the topic of comics and comic strips been addressed as it applies to idiomatics learning in second language acquisition (SLA). I employed a descriptive and exploratory approach in this study to address this gap in SLA pedagogy. A total of 21 doctoral non-native English-speaking students and doctoral native English-speaking students studying SLA at a major university in the Southeastern region of the United States volunteered for this study. I collected data integrating four participant tasks: the Pre-Study Questionnaire, the Comic Idiomatics Task, the Post-Study Questionnaire, and the Post-Study Semi-Structured Interview. The results provided evidence that there is a clear need for the teaching of L2 idiomatics. More precisely, this study revealed that (1) the doctoral native English-speaking students performed differently than the doctoral non-native English-speaking students when asked to identify and deduce the meaning of idiomatic and/or figurative expressions embedded in comics and comic strips and (2) the doctoral native English-speaking students and the doctoral non-native English-speaking students used similar strategies/techniques in that the native speakers used context clues, recollection, and guessing, whereas the non-native speakers used context clues, recollection, guessing, and referring to their native language. Second and foreign language teachers in the field of SLA can incorporate the strategies/techniques gleaned from this study in the design and development of a curriculum that addresses the needs and challenges of second language learners.