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Dynamic Communication Strategies

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1579 words Published: 21st Apr 2017

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The word communication comes from a Latin word for “commonness,” including the prefix com- which suggests togetherness, joining, cooperation and mutually. Therefore, communication is definable as “a mutual exchange between two or more individuals which enhances cooperation and establishes commonality.

Communication is also seen as dynamic, not static and depending on the negotiation of meaning between two or more persons who share some knowledge of the language being used.

Communication can be understood as the passing of information in humans, animals, computers, or any other cognitive entity. In a broader sense communication can refer to almost any type of movement, be it matter, energy, force or some effect. Space and time might be the only things that can’t themselves be communicated. Human communication refers to the social interaction of giving and receiving information for the purpose of not only understanding, but also facilitating social connection. (Wikipedia, 2006)

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Communication strategies (CS), widely-studied in the fields of linguistics and second language acquisition, have been defined in various ways, but most definitions are based on the concept of “problematicity” (Kasper & Kellerman, 1997, p. 2) For example, according to Tarone (1977), CS are “…used by an individual to overcome the crisis which occurs when language structures are inadequate to convey the individual’s thought” (p. 195).

Færch and Kasper (1983) defined CS as “…potentially conscious plans for solving what to an individual presents as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal” (p. 36). This concept of problematicity leads to problem-solving strategies that a speaker uses when lacking morphological, lexical, or syntactic knowledge.

Communication strategies pertain to the employment of verbal or nonverbal mechanisms for the productive communication of information. It is also seen as an adaptation to the failure to realize a language production. They serve the purpose of “negotiating meaning” when either the linguistic structure or sociolinguistic rules are not shared between individuals or, in more straightforward terms, when the communicative act is on the point of breaking down.


Avoidance is a common communication strategy that can be broken down into several subcategories. The most common strategy is syntactic or lexical avoidance within a semantic category. Below is one of the examples of avoidance made by a learner. For example: L: I lost my road

NS : You lost your road?

L: Uh,…I lost. I lost. I got lost.

On the other hands, phonological avoidance is when the learner using other alternative of pronouncing a word (because of its phonological difficulty). For example, instead of using the word rally, the learner opted to say “hit the ball”

In avoidance strategies, learners basically will create message abandonment. Message abandonment is leaving a message unfinished because of language difficulties. A more direct type of avoidance is topic avoidance. In this case, a whole of conversation might be avoided entirely that pose language difficulties. Learners will find alternatives in avoiding the conversation by changing the subject, pretending not to understand, simply not responding at all or noticeably abandoning a message when a thought becomes to express.


Another common set of communication devices involves compensation for missing knowledge. There are eleven types in this strategy. The first is prefabricated patterns, where learners of beginning-level memorize certain stock phrases or sentences without internalized knowledge of their components. Examples for these memorized chunks of language are “How much does this cost?”, “Where is the toilet?”, “I don’t understand you.” Such phrases are memorized by rote to fit their appropriate context or situation.

The second type is code switching. Code switching is the use of a first or third language within a stream of speech in the second language. It occurs between two advanced learners with a common first language. This strategy may also include adding word endings from the new language onto words from the mother tongue. Examples of code switching are: switching to the mother tongue: Spanish/English: “Have aqua please”, Bahasa Malaysian/English: “Suami saya dulu slim and trim tapi sekarang plump like drum” (Before my husband was slim and trim but now he is plump like a drum)

The third common compensatory strategy is a direct appeal for help. If the learners may stuck for a particular word or phrase, asking for aid from the interlocutor either directly ( eg what do ypu call…?) or indirectly ( eg rising intonation, pause, eye contact, puzzled expression) . Within this category are those instances where the learner might appeal to a bilingual dictionary for help.

The fourth type is circumlocution or synonym. Circumlocution is a figure of speech where the meaning of a word or phrase is indirectly expressed through several or many words. For example: “scissors” = “a thing you use to cut other things”, “corkscrew” =

“The thing you open bottles with”. Circumlocution is often helpful while learning a new language, when one does not know the word for a particular thing.

The fifth type is adjusting or approximating the message. Approximation is when the learning using an alternative term which expresses the meaning of the target lexical item as closely as possible. Altering the message by omitting some items of information, making ideas simpler or less precise, or saying something slightly different that means almost the same thing such as saying pencil for pen

The sixth type is using of all-purpose words.learners extending a general, empty lexical item to contexts where specific words are lacking (e.g. the overuse of thing stuff, what-do-you-call -it, thingie ..)

The seventh type is word coinage. Learners basically will make up new words to communicate the desired idea such as paper holder for notebook and vegetarianist for vegetarian.

The eighth type is using non linguistic signals such as using physical motion, mime or gesture, in place of an expression to indicate the meaning Language based clues may come from the target language that the learner already knows, from the learners’ own language or from another language. For instance, if the learner does not know the expression association sans but lucratif (“nonprofit association,” in French), previous knowledge of certain words in English (association, lucrative) and French (sans= without) would give clues to the meaning of the unknown word, but (aim, goal), and of the whole expression.

The ninth type is literal translation. Learners translate literally a lexical item, idiom, compound word, or structure from L1 to L2.

The next type is foreignizing where the learner using a L1 word by adjusting it to L2 phonology (with a L2 pronunciation) and or morphology (adding to it a L2 suffix)

The last type is stalling or time gaining strategies using fillers or hesitation devices to fill pauses and to gain time to think ( e.g. well, now lets see, uh, as a matter of fact.)

Compensatory strategies enable learners to use the new language for either comprehension or production despite limitations in knowledge. It also intended to make up for an inadequate repertoire of grammar and especially of vocabulary.

Eleven compensation strategies exist, clustered into two sets: guessing intelligently in listening and reading and overcoming limitations in speaking and writing. Guessing strategies, sometimes called “inferencing,” involve using a wide variety of clues – linguistic and non-linguistic – to guess the meaning when the learner does not know all the words

Good language learners when confronted with the unknown expressions, make educated guesses. On the other hand, less adept language learners often panic, tune out, or grab the dog-eared dictionary and try to look up every unfamiliar word. Compensation Strategies allows learners to produce spoken or written expression in the new language without complete knowledge.

It is true that certain compensation strategies like using mime or gestures are used in speaking. However, other Compensation Strategies – adjusting or approximating the message, coining words, using a circumlocution or synonym, or selecting the topic can be used in informal writing as well as in speaking

Many Compensation Strategies for production are used to compensate for a lack of appropriate vocabulary, but these strategies can also be used to make up for a lack of grammatical knowledge

Compensation Strategies help learners to keep on using the language, thus obtaining more practice. In addition, some of these strategies such as adjusting or approximating the message help learners become more fluent in what they already know. Getting help and coining words lead learners to gain new information about what is appropriate or permissible in the target language.


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