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Volume 6 Number 1, Spring 2009, Pages 1-214   

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How Do Mainland Chinese Learners of English Use Compensatory Strategies to Aid Communication: A Qualitative Analysis in Three Communicative Environments

    Li Zhang, Tongshun Wang and Yue Sheng

Strategic competence is one of the four components in the model of communicative competence. Since 1970s, researches have been done to deal with issues related to communication strategies. The current research tries to investigate what communication strategies are used by mainland Chinese learners of English to compensate for the deficiency of language resources through the analysis of communications in natural conversations, classroom interactions and oral English tests. 48 Chinese college learners of English participated in the study. The instruments include observation, retrospective verbal reporting and interview. The result shows that learners use various compensatory strategies to enhance communication. Besides, learners use such strategies as repetition, restructuring, circumlocution, literal translation, and all-purpose word more frequently than other compensatory strategies. Finally, the strategies learners use in three different learning environments are varied. The results can help teachers appropriately arrange for and guide the training and teaching of communication strategies according to different learning situations. It will also inform learners of what strategies are over-used or under-used and how to use compensatory strategies consciously to enhance successful communication.

Keywords: compensatory strategies, qualitative analysis, natural conversations, classroom interactions, oral English tests