Avoidance and Compensatory Strategies Used by Turkish Preparatory Students in Speaking
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EFL students resort to various avoidance and compensatory strategies (ACSs) when confronted with communicative problems or linguistic shortcomings. Previous studies conducted in Turkey mainly focused on the relationship between communication strategies and some factors like gender, age, proficiency level and visibility in interaction. The current study explored which ACSs are favored frequently by preparatory students studying English at a foundation university in Ankara, Turkey. To identify these strategies, a five-scale Likert type questionnaire was administered to 52 students first and then speaking exam performances of 24 of those students were examined by transcribing and analyzing audio recordings. In addition, semi-structured interviews were held with 5 English instructors as well as retrospective interviews with 5 students to corroborate findings from different sources. The findings of the questionnaire illustrate that students favor avoidance strategies like message reduction and syntactic avoidance most, whereas they prefer compensatory strategies such as approximation, circumlocution, time gaining and prefabricated patterns. However, qualitative analysis of speaking exams reveal that message abandonment is the most frequent avoidance strategy while prefabricated patterns, self-repetition, and self-repair respectively are the most frequent compensatory strategies employed by the students as well as other common ones like stalling and time gaining, code-switching and literal translation. Finally, the results suggest that the use of avoidance strategies starts to decrease as the proficiency level increases, however, there is a visible boost in the use compensatory strategies from beginner towards intermediate levels but compensatory strategy use starts to decline in advanced levels.
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