Is there a linguistics term for when a non-native speaker automatically answers 'yes' when they don't understand the question?

asked 2019-04-28 23:22:57 -0500

I have noticed in my ESL class that when I ask students if they understand, they will answer 'yes', then as we go on, it becomes clear that they do not, in fact, understand. I know this is a knee-jerk reaction of non-native speakers because it can get them out of casual conversations where they just have to be pleasant. Is there a linguistics term for this knee-jerk 'yes' phenomenon and is there any good way to get students to open up about whether they really understand or not?

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