Strategic communication in Spanish as L2: exploring the effects of proficiency, task and interlocutor

Rosas Maldonado, Maritza
Strategic communication in Spanish as L2: exploring the effects of proficiency, task and interlocutor. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis investigates the way English L2 learners of Spanish communicate face-to-face with other learners (NNS), and native speakers (NS) by means of communication strategies (CSs). The final aim is to examine the learners’ strategic use of the target language as influenced by three variables: the proficiency level, the type of task and the type of dyad. Learners with different proficiency levels interacted face-to-face when carrying out two types of tasks. 36 interactions with different combinations of dyad and task were elicited by means of video and audio recording, observation of participants’ interactions and stimulated recall methodology. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted to investigate possible associations between CSs and tasks, dyads and proficiency levels in each setting. The major findings in this study indicate a higher use of CSs in beginner levels, which was reflected in the lower level learners’ concern for solving lexis-related problems, and their tendency to focus on less complex grammatical features of the language. The higher level learners, however, seemed to focus more on grammar-related problems, as well as on more complex aspects of the target language. A similar lexis-grammar distinction was observed for the task variable. The open task, a free-conversation activity, involved higher cognitive demands due to the lack of visual support and the linguistic freedom provided by the topics given. This pushed the learners to invest more in the conversation, by attempting to produce more L2 and more conceptually complex ideas, thus making it a more grammar-oriented activity. Conversely, the closed task, a jigsaw activity, resulted in a more linguistically demanding task due to its linguistic restrictions, through the visual context provided, posing more lexis-related problems. Finally, the NNS-NS’s non-shared status was the major influence on the learners’ CSs. The NS – through their linguistic expertise – did not only assist and guide the learners, when this help was elicited through the learners’ CSs, but also triggered comprehension problems because of their more complex speech. The NNSs’ similar status, on the other hand, although also triggered the learners’ appeal for help – albeit to a lesser extent – the interlocutor was less likely to provide the assistance required, and just acknowledged their peer’s message to avoid a communication breakdown and maintain the conversation. It seemed that the learners do not expect this assistance as much as when interacting with a NS, as they are aware of their mutual lack of L2 resources, and because their shared characteristics also promote a mutual, implicit understanding between them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2012-11 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: communication strategies, proficiency level, task, interlocutor
Subjects: ?? PE ??
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2013 12:25
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:37
DOI: 10.17638/00008253
  • Thompson, Geoff