A pedagogical perspective on communication strategies: Benefits of training and an analysis of English language teaching materials

Faucette, Priscilla
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Effective strategies used to overcome communication difficulties are of crucial importance for second language (L2) learners. Therefore, L2 learners might benefit from instruction on how to cope with such difficulties. Since the early 1970’s, much research has been conducted on communication strategies (CS), the means used to overcome some difficulty in expressing an intended meaning. Due to differing theoretical perspectives, researchers have disagreed about the question of whether such strategy training is beneficial. However, few studies have specifically considered communication strategies from a pedagogical point of view. Also, practicing teachers of communication strategies may be at a loss when searching for appropriate materials. This study addresses this issue. In this paper, I will first briefly present a definition, some conceptualizations, and examples of communication strategies. Then, I will discuss the controversy concerning teaching CS, arguing in favor of it. This will be followed by a description of a research project that analyzed communication strategies found in English language teaching (ELT) materials. Findings suggest that although there are at least a few materials available from which language teachers could draw appropriate, adaptable CS activities, particularly from teachers’ resource books, most of the surveyed materials offer few suitable ideas for CS instruction. More materials that introduce communication strategy activities/tasks would be welcomed. Finally, suggestions for materials and pedagogical implications will be discussed.
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