This forum is based on two separately conducted studies to teach communication strategies (CS), one of the most controversial issues in CS studies, to Japanese EFL learners. The study by Iwai is concerned with an experimental intensive CS training program, in which a computer-based CS training package developed specifically for this study was used. The results of pre, post, and follow-up (2 months after the program) tests suggest that the CS training is effective not only to offer an opportunity to perform in L2, but also to facilitate the learners’ response time and their ability to use words and syntactic structures more effectively, thus positively affecting L2 learners’ linguistic competence, as Yule and Tarone (1997) stressed (“performance creates competence”).
The study by Gobel deals with the use and acquisition of interaction strategies. During this nine-month study, students were trained in listener interaction strategies, in an effort to boost negotiation on in-class jigsaw tasks. The results of the study suggest the positive effects of strategy training, with the caveat that communication strategies may not be all of one order, and that the acquisition of strategies may not be as clear-cut as previously thought. The participants in this study, when they chose to use clarification strategies, selected strategies which indicated a preference for “low-risk, high-return”, putting the onus of communication on the speaker, not the listener. Thus, strategy choice may be due to affective factors or cognitive constraints which may affect the use of “high risk” strategies.
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