"Communication strategies are verbal and non-verbal strategies that may be called into action to compensate for a breakdown in communication", (Canale and Swain 1980, 30). Learners use these strategies to overcome the lack of knowledge and resources in their foreign language (FL). They are used to get around both lexical and grammatical problems in the language. There are two different approaches to the study of communication strategies:
This is the socially motivated approach towards communication strategies, which Tarone (1977) took. She defined communication strategies as "A mutual attempt of two interlocutors to agree on a meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures do not seem to be shared" (Tarone 1981, 419). Tarone provided a list of communication strategies:
Topic avoidance: The learner avoids talking about specific objects or topics about which s/he doesn't know the language or structure.
Message abandonment: when the learner starts to talk and then has to stop mid sentence because s/he gets stuck on an item of the language, e.g. vocabulary.
Approximation: using a single target language item which the learner knows is incorrect, but shares enough semantic features with the intended item to satisfy the speaker. E.g. "Bird" for "seagull".
Word coinage: the learner makes up a new word. E.g. "airball for balloon".
Circumlocution: the learner describes the characteristics of the object instead of using the appropriate target language item. E.g. a bird that lives on the water for "duck". 3.
Literal translation: translating word for from the native language e.g. "I have hungry" i.e. "I am hungry"
Language switch: employing the native language term without bothering to translate e.g. "balon" for "balloon"
Appeal for assistance: the learner seeks...
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