Second language communication strategies
Communication Strategies defined
Rubin (1981, 1987) defines communication strategies as those strategies used by a learner to promote and continue communication with others rather than abandon it. They are strategies used by speakers when they come across a difficulty in their communication because of lack of adequate knowledge of the language.
According to Brown (2000), communication strategies pertain to the employment of verbal or nonverbal mechanisms for the productive communication of information.
Bialystok, in her book Communication Strategies , cites four definitions relating to the strategies of second-language learners (Bialystok, 1990: 3):
1. a systematic technique employed by a speaker to express his ideas when faced with some difficulty;(Corder, 1977)
2. a mutual attempt of two interlocutors to agree on a meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures are not shared; (Tarone, 1980)
3. potentially conscious plans for solving what to an individual presents itself as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal; (Faerch & Kasper, 1983a)
4. techniques of coping with difficulties in communicating in an imperfectly known second language.
All the above definitions reveal the same purpose of communication strategies, namely, to solve a communication problem that has emerged by applying some kinds of techniques.
Tarone's (1977, 1981) typology of conscious communication strategies are the following:
a. Topic avoidance
b. Message abandonment
b. Word coinage
3. Conscious transfer
a. Literal translation
b. Language switch
4. Appeal for assistance
Communication Strategies and Foreign Language Learning Communication strategies (Dornyei, 1995 cited in Brown, 2000: 128)
1. Syntactic or Lexical Avoidance within a semantic category
L2 learner: I lost my road.
Native speaker: You lost your road?
L2 learner: I lost – I lost…. I got lost.
2. Topic avoidance: Avoiding topic areas or concepts that pose language difficulties.
pretending not to understand
changing the topic
3. Phonological Avoidance
difficulty in producing the sounds or correct pronunciation
Instead of saying “breeze” because of the fear that you might pronounce it /brεz/, you settle with saying “wind”
4. Circumlocution: describing or exemplifying the target object
saying “the thing you put your money in” when you mean wallet
“what you use to wipe your hands clean” for towel
5. Approximation: using an alternative term which expresses the meaning of the target lexical item as closely as possible
Ex.:saying ship when you mean sailboat
saying “Stay away from strangers.” to mean “Avoid strangers.”
6. Use of all-purpose words: extending a general, empty lexical item to contexts where specific words are lacking
7. Word coinage: creating a new word in order to communicate a concept
vegetarianist for vegetarian
airball for balloon
ice cabinet (or ice box) for freezer
8. Prefabricated patterns: using memorized stock phrases, usually for "survival" purposes; sentence frames (e.g. Where is the…?) plus a slot into which different noun phrases may be inserted.
“What is your name?”
“I don’t speak English.”
“I don’t know.”
9. Nonverbal signals: mime, gesture, facial expression, or sound imitation.
10. Literal translation: translating literally a lexical item, idiom, compound word, or structure from L1 to L2.
(from Tagalog to English)
“Suntok sa buwan” is literally translated as “a punch to the moon”
“She fell because she had a fever.” to mean “She collapsed because she had a fever.”
11. Foreignizing: using a native word by adjusting it to the second-language phonology (i.e., with the second-language pronunciation) and/or morphology (e.g., adding to it a second-language suffix)
“Shiros” used by some Japanese – Americans to refer to “Whites” because the Japanese for the color white is “shiro”.
12. Code-switching or Language Switching: using the native language term, without bothering to translate, in a second-language sentence.
“I went to buy shoes but I found out that wala na pala akong pera (I had no more money)!”
“My puppy is so kawaii (cute) I want to hug it.”
13. Appeal for assistance: asking for the right word from someone either directly or indirectly
directly – “What do you call…?”
indirectly – puzzled expression, eye contact, hand gestures
14. Stalling or time-gaining strategies: using fillers or hesitation devices to fill pauses and to gain time to think
as a matter of fact
Avval, Sarah Farrahi. (2009). Communication Strategies Do Work: the usage of communication strategies in translation by Iranian students of translation. Translation Journal, Vol. 13, No. 3. April 2010.
Brown, H. Douglas. (2000). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. NY, USA: Addison Wesley & Longman, Inc.
Hakuta, Kenji. (1974). Language Learning: Prefabricated Patterns and the Emergence of Structure in Second Language Acquisition, Vol. 24, No. 2. Toronto, Canada: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
Martin, Judith & Thomas Nakayama. (2004). Intercultural Communication in Context. NY, USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.