Effects of Different Types of Tasks on Junior ELT Students’ Use of Communication Strategies in Computer-Mediated Communication

Effects of Different Types of Tasks on Junior ELT Students’ Use of Communication Strategies in Computer-Mediated Communication

Nur Eser Altun (Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey) and Senem Yildiz (Foreign Language Education Department, Faculty of Education, Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2013040102
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Abstract

This study describes the use of communication strategies in a synchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) environment and examine whether task type has an influence on the frequency and variety of communication strategies (CS) used in this environment. To this end, use of CSs in three different communicative task types: jigsaw, decision-making and opinion-exchange were examined, based on and adapted from Dörnyei and Scott’s (1997) and Smith’s (2003) CS taxonomies. The data for this study was collected from 36 junior ELT students studying in a Turkish university. The results showed that the participants made use of a variety of CSs that were previously observed in face-to-face communication, and they used some CSs which are peculiar to CMC environment. It was also found that task type affected the frequency and type of CS used, favoring jigsaw task types in resulting more use of CSs.
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Literature Review

Communication Strategies

Factors controlling the use of different kinds of CSs have been investigated by many researchers and Bialystok (1990) identified three potential factors that influence the choice of CSs: nature of the task, proficiency level of L2 learners, and features of the communicative context. Whether speakers use the same or different CSs in first language (L1) and L2 during the course of communication has been one of the interests of CSs research. Bialystok (1990) argued that the use of CSs by second language learners is a distinctive second language phenomenon and several studies show that communication strategy use is not only an L2 phenomenon but it is present in L1 as well (Bongaerts & Poulisse, 1989; Kellerman et al., 1990; Yule & Tarone, 1990). Yule and Tarone’s (1987) study with Asian and South American EFL learners showed that participants from different cultural backgrounds and with different L1s did not use CSs related to their culture based information. However, learner variables and especially the proficiency level of the learners were found to affect the use of communication strategies (Bialystok, 1983; Paribakht, 1985; Chen, 1990). Bialystok who categorized CSs as L1-based and L2-based strategies found that those learners who were determined as high proficiency level as a result of a cloze test used significantly more L2-based CSs like circumlocution, approximation and description and used significantly fewer L1-based CSs such as codeswitching and literal translation than low-proficiency level learners.

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