Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Compensatory Strategies on Improving Iranian Efl Learners' Speaking Skill: The Case of Time Gaining and Circumlocution

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Compensatory Strategies on Improving Iranian Efl Learners' Speaking Skill: The Case of Time Gaining and Circumlocution

Article excerpt


Although meaningful and fluent communication is the final goal of EFL learners but most of them have numerous problems to conserve and communicate in the target language. Attempting hard to express their minds through their limited English knowledge and having difficulties to initiate and maintain in conversations due to lack of linguistic knowledge are considered a big problem and cause anxiety and frustration to many learners. Lots of EFL learners are not satisfied with the results of studying English for many years and become demotivated gradually. Teaching compensatory strategies (CSs) can be a useful way to make up their breakdowns in conversations and to develop their strategic competence and to enhance their speaking ability.

Canale (1983) and Canale and Swain (1980) define strategic competence as the mastery of verbal and nonverbal communication strategies in L2 used when attempting to compensate for deficiencies in the grammatical and sociolinguistic competence or to enhance the effectiveness of communication. CSs have been defined as "mutual attempts of two interlocutors to agree on meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures do not seem to be shared" (Bialystok & Fröhlich, 1980, p. 420).

According to Faerch and Kasper (1983), "communication strategies are conscious plans to solve learners' problems in achieving a special goal". It is also believed that learners can improve communicative proficiency by developing an ability to use specific communication strategies that enable them to compensate for their target language deficiencies (e.g., Bialystok, 1990; Dornyei, 1995).

When faced with a breakdown in communication, students can either dispense with their original communicative goal or reach their original communicative goal via a different route by making use of the limited linguistic means they have at their disposal. When motivated learners encounter difficulties in communicating meaning in the target language without finding any solution and when they feel they have made no progress in learning, it leads them to become anxious, demotivated and unsuccessful language learners. Teaching compensatory strategies can be a solution to these problems and not only it can improve learners' communication skills, but also decrease their anxiety level, increase their motivation and pave the way for learners to become more successful EFL learners. This study taught two types of compensatory strategiestime gaining and circumlocution-to Iranian EFL learners in order to improve their speaking skill. So the following questions were raised in this study:

RQ 1. Is compensatory strategy of time gaining effective on Iranian EFL learners' speaking?

RQ 2. Is compensatory strategy of circumlocution effective on Iranian EFL learners' speaking?

2.Review of the Related Literature

2.1. Communication Strategy

A communication strategy is defined as an individual's attempt to find a way to fill the gap between their communication efforts and immediate available linguistic resources (Maleki, 2007). Although there are other definitions of communication strategies as well, the basic idea remains the same. For example, Faerch and Kasper (1983) defined CS as "potentially conscious plans" which are used by an individual to solve a problem in order to reach a specific communication goal. It is believed that communication strategies play an important role in the development of strategic competence (e. g., Faucette, 2001); therefore, one can define communication strategies within strategic competence framework. According to Canale and Swain (1980), strategic competence is "verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to performance variables or to insufficient competence" (p. 30). Scattergood (2003) believed that strategic competence is cultivated if teachers create a language classroom in which communication strategies are taught and practiced. …

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