Communicative and Compensatory Strategies  

SLA Topics SLL and LT

'The easiest way to give the impression of having a good accent or no foreign accent at all is to hold an unlit pipe in your mouth, to mutter between your teeth and finish all your sentences with the question “isn’t it?” People will not understand much, but they are used to that and they will get a most excellent impression.' George Mikes 1946

A. Socially-motivated strategies for solving mutual lack of understanding (Tarone): a Communication Strategy (CS) 'a mutual attempt of two interlocutors to agree on a meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures do not seem to be shared'

       avoidance          topic avoidance
                                  message abandonment
       approximation   “animal" for "horse",
       paraphrase        word coinage "airball" for "balloon".
       circumlocution    “when you make a container" for "pottery"
       transfer              literal translation "Make the door shut"
                                   language switch "That's a nice tirtil" (caterpillar)
       appeal for assistance “What is this?"
       mime                  getting some candles in a shop in France by singing "Happy Birthday" in English and miming blowing out candles.

               Communication strategies in Tarone (1977)

   avoidance    message abandonment          4%
   paraphrase  approximation                     12%
                      word coinage              under 1%
                      circumlocution                    80%
   transfer       language switch                    2%
   appeal for assistance                               2%

Frequency of communication strategies in English- speaking girls learning French (adapted from Bialystok, 1990)

paraphrase  
     approximation    51.05%
     word coinage      96.88%
     circumlocution    56.38%
transfer        
      language switch 60.38%
Communication strategeis in percentages pie

Success of communication strategies for listeners (adapted from Bialystok, 1990)

B. Psychologically-motivated strategies for solving the individual's L2 problems of expression (Faerch & Kasper): 'potentially conscious plans for solving what to an individual presents itself as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal'

                                               L1/L3                 codeswitching  
                                              
strategies           foreignising     
                                                                                               
                                                                        
substitution     
                                                                        
generalisation 
                                               
interlanguage    exemplification
                   
  Non-cooperative                           word coining    
                       
strategies                                  restructuring    
                                                                        
description       
achievement                                                                             
                                               
non-linguistic     mime               
                                                
strategies         imitation, etc   
                                                                                                
                   
Cooperative                                  appeals            
                                                                                                
                                                                        
phonological    
                   
Formal reduction                           morphological  
                                                                        
grammatical    
avoidance                                                                                 
                                                                          actional          
                   
Functional reduction                        propositional  
                                                                          modal            

Communication strategies in interlanguage production (Faerch & Kasper (1984)

C. Compensatory strategies

Conceptual archistrategy { analytic "talk uh bird" for "parrot"
                                            { holistic "table" for "desk"
Linguistic archistrategy    { morphological creativity "ironize" for "iron"
                                            { L1 transfer "middle" for "waist"
Compensatory strategies from Poulisse (1989/90)

Conceptual  Linguistic
Analytic Holistic  Morpho
-logical 
 Transfer Totals
advanced   466  138  53  762
upper secondary   630  171  93  903
lower secondary   707 182  7 122  1018
Totals 803  491  19  268  2581
Percentage   69.9%  19.2%  0.7% 

10.4%

Superordinate strategies in L2 by group for four tasks (adapted from Poulisse, 1989)

percentage correct  range
Holistic   51.2%  0% ("tailor") to 92.3% ("wig")
Analytic  69.6%  20.6% ("applications") to 100% ("hairdressers")
Holistic+ Analytic  78.9%  34.6% ("hair-restorer") to 100% ("lawyer")
Transfer   59.3%  2.9% ("rabbit") to 95% ("wig")

Success of native speakers at guessing words from L2 compensatory strategies (adapted from Poulisse, 1990)

Research summary: Poulisse, N. (1990), The Use of Compensatory Strategies by Dutch Learners of English, Mouton de Gruijter, Berlin
Aim
: to investigate compensatory strategies at different L2 levels, in L1 and L2, and in terms of efficiency
Learners: 45 Dutch learners of English at three levels of acquisition: advanced, intermed- iate, and low.
Data type: transcripts of four tasks: I photo description, II description of drawings in L1 and L2, III retelling stories, IV interview.
Method of analysis: classification into conceptual (analytic and holistic) and linguistic (morphological and transfer)
Results: strategies vary inversely according to proficiency, vary partly in type according to proficiency, vary according to task, and vary according to superordinate versus
subordinate level.

English (L2)  

Dutch (L1)

 

holistic

partitive 

linear 

holistic 

partitive 

linear

advanced  

 

 

 

134 

21 

25

upper secondary

119 

 34 

25 

124 

33 

22

lower secondary 

 116 

32 

31 

117 

43 

20

Totals  

372 

87 

78 

375 

97 

67

Comparison of compensatory strategies for shape description in L1 and L2 (adapted from Poulisse, 1990)

References

Bialystok, E. (1990), Communication Strategies, Blackwell, Oxford

Faerch, C. & Kasper, G. (1984), 'Two ways of defining communication strategies', Language Learning, 34, 45-63

Firth, A. & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. Modern Language Journal, 81, 285-300

Kasper, G. & Kellerman, E. (eds.) (1997), Communication Strategies, Harlow: Longman

Kellerman, E. (1991), 'Compensatory strategies in second language research: a critique, a revision, and some (non-) implications for the classroom', in Phillipson, R., Kellerman, E., Selinker, L., Sharwood Smith, M., & Swain. M. (eds.), Foreign/Second Language Pedagogy Research, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon

Poulisse, N. (1990), The Use of Compensatory Strategies by Dutch Learners of English, Mouton de Gruijter, Berlin

Poulisse, N. (1996), ‘Strategies’, in Jordens, P. & Lalleman, J., (eds) Investigating Second Language Acquisition, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin

Tarone, E. (1988), Variation in Interlanguage, Edward Arnold, London

Extract from a Dutch student retelling a story

Here is an example taken from Nanda Poulisse (1990) of a Dutch student retelling a story in English. Take one of the schemes of analysis from Faerch and Kasper or from the Nijmegen project and see what strategies you discover; to what extent do you feel this shows that the bulk of communication strategies are in fact due to lack of lexical knowledge?

it's a story which call, the representer <laughs> it's a man uh, uh, uh who has uh, discovered, uh 1, uh 1 ja, a thing you can put on your head and then your hair will grow, when you're bald, that's very nice and uh, he tries to sell it, to uh, /so/ uh, to a lot of, erm, 1 haircutters <laughs>, erm 1 he does it uh, very, uh xxx clever, he's uh, bald, self, his himself, and uh, then, he puts on uh, uh <laughs> 3 'n pruik (=a wig) <whispers> 2 erm 6 erm, a thing which is made of uh, other man's hair or static hair, and you can put it on your head and then uh, it seems if you're not bald, and uh, then he, uh beweren (=claims), uh <whispers> 4 he says to the, to to the hair-cutter that uh 2 that uh has come because he has use his own uh 2 own, wat is uitviubdig nou weer (now what is invention?) <whispers> 2 own uh thing which he /ha/ had d discocered, uh. he, uh 2 he 2, he uh, earned a lot of money, uh, until the day of uh, the 2 meeting which is hold every year, in 1 outside of uh the houses, in the air, and the wind had uh, blew off, that thing 1 which he had on his hairs, and so 1 uh they discovered that he was a liar <laughs>

Learning strategies   Vocabulary learning strategies