Use of Communication Strategies by Chinese EFL Learners
Foreign Language Department, Guizhou University, China
Sanooch S. Nathalang
Human Language Technology Laboratory, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, Pathumyani, Thailand
Abstract This present study reports on an investigation into the CSs used by College English students (or non-English major students) in China. These students are a large group who are studying English and need to use CSs to facilitate their communication because they do not have sufficient exposure to English in daily life. All of the subjects are first-year bachelor students from Arts and Science fields and are grouped into high proficiency level and low proficiency level. The data were collected by means of two kinds of tasks, namely, one-way task and two-way task. Descriptive statistics and independent t-tests were conducted to analyze the data. The results indicate that these variables of task type, proficiency level, and academic field are related with CSs use to different degrees. The results of this study could be great help in the teaching of English to Chinese EFL learners by making them aware of CSs already in their repertoire and by encouraging them to use CSs more frequently. Keywords Communication strategies, Interlanguage, Communication competence
1. Introduction Foreign language (FL) learners may come across various communication problems when their interlanguage (henceforth, IL) is deficient and lacks the necessary resources. In order to best convey their messages and remain in the conversation until their communication goal is reached, EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners Zhang, L. J., Rubdy, R., & Alsagoff, L. (Eds.). (2009). Englishes and Literatures-in-English in a Globalised World: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on English in Southeast Asia (pp. 120-136). Singapore: National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. ©Copyright 2009 An & Nathalang
need to employ communication strategies (henceforth, CSs). CSs generally have been defined as devices employed by L2 learners for solving what to an individual presents itself as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal (Færch & Kasper, 1983). Using communication strategies is characteristic of IL communication. Ample research on IL development of foreign language learners has shown that when faced with communication difficulties in various activities, learners tend to use communication strategies to cope with these difficulties. Analysis of these strategies provides us with rich insights into the complex process of language acquisition and gives us ideas about how to help learners develop their IL. Communication strategies, as one of the factors which affect IL development, have been investigated by researchers since the notion of CS was offered in 1972 by Selinker. Chinese EFL learners have been found to employ IL CSs in their English communication with their peers. College English students (or non-English major students) in China are considered a large group who are studying English and need to use CSs to facilitate their communication because they do not have enough exposure to English in daily life. Therefore, they may have formed their own IL system that can provide them with various CSs in English interactions. This ability to deal with language communication difficulties is referred to as „strategic competence‟, which is an important component of communicative competence and a contribution to understanding how learners communicate by various strategies. It is believed that learners can improve their communicative competence by developing an ability to use specific communication strategies that enable them to compensate for their target language deficiency (e.g., Bialystok, 1990; Dornyei, 1995). Therefore, it is important to study CSs in order to help EFL learners develop their communicative competence. The empirical study of the...