The purpose of this paper is to summarize one section of three chapters in ‘Developing Communicative Competence in a Second Language (Issues in Second Language Research)’ written by Robin C. Scarcella, Elaine Andersen, and Stephen D. Krashen. The main focus of this section is to examine how second language learner’s develop discourse competence. The term discourse competence was first used by Canale and Swain to refer to knowledge of how to combine grammatical forms and meanings to achieve a unified spoken and written text in various contexts.
However, here, in the following chapters, the authors refer it to ‘verbal, nonverbal, and paralinguistic knowledge underlying the ability to organize spoken and written texts meaningfully and appropriately.’ (Scarcella , Andersen and Krashen,1990) although none of the chapters in this section address issues relating to the role of discourse competence in development of communicative competence or the acquisition of it, altogether, these chapters approach conversational competence from various perspective. For instance, chapter 7, Sato explores interruption behavior in classroom participation; Neu, in chapter 8, examines the role of nonverbal communication n starting conversations and keeping the conversation going; in the last chapter, chapter 9, Olynyak, d’Anglejan, and Sankoff examine the use of hesitation markers in both planned and unplanned discourse.
‘Ethnic Style In Classroom Discourse’ by Charlene J. Sato The purpose of this study is to characterize Asian and Non-Asian patterns of classroom interaction. Participants in this study were two groups of university students enrolled in intermediate ESL courses and their teachers. Of 31 students, 19 were Asians. Significant differences between the Asians and non-Asians were found regarding to the frequency of turn-taking. Group one were 15 Asians and 8 non-Asians. Teacher was the researcher herself, a Japanese- American woman. Group two were 4 Asian and 4 non-Asians. The teacher was a Caucasian American woman. All of the students come from various countries. For both classes, all of the taped sessions consisted of exercised-centered discussion.
Group one was video-taped and G2 was in-class observed by the researcher. Two sets of the data were coded and portions transcribed. The results show that there were significant differences between the Asians and non- Asian students’ talks in ESL classroom. For example, total turn-taking percentage, Asians was 36.5 % and non-Asians was 63.5 %; self-initiated turns percentage Asians was 33.99 % and non-Asians was 66.01 %; as for teacher-allocated turns, Asians was 39.66 % and non-Asians was 60.44 %. The results may be contributed by following two factors: first, teacher’s sentiment to students’ unwillingness to talk and second, students’ perceptions of teacher’s preallocated speaking rights. As a result, Asian students have been characterized as taking less speaking turns on their own initiative and as being more dependent on teacher-allocated turns in class discussions.
‘Assessing The Role Of Nonverbal Communication In The Acquisition Of Communicative Competence in L2’ by Joyce Neu The purpose of this study is to explore the effects of nonverbal competence in the assessment of the overall communicative competence of second language learners. The two interviewees are Yama, a 23 years old Japanese male and Ahmed, a 30 years old Saudi Arabian male. Tony, the interviewer, is a 38 years old American male with over 10 years ESL experiences. Yama and Ahmed were selected for analysis because their score on this speaking test, a midterm oral interview, were remarkably similar while their performance in the interview appeared radically different. The interview was videotaped and analyze by Foster system under four channels– (V) verbal/vocal, (F) facial/head movement, (H) hand/arm movements, and (B) body position/movement.
The first channel is spoken utterances and sounds; the second, includes eye gaze, facial expression, and head movement; the third channel consists of any movement of the hands and arms; the fourth channel, includes orientation and whole body shifts. In Yama’s case: (V) functionally and strategically competent with 95% correctness; (F) less facial expression partially due to culture influence ; (H) frequent and complex hand gestures indicating his blockage of the speech production process; (B) few body movements indicating his anxiety and uncertainty. Altogether, Yama’s nonverbal behaviors give away his verbal dysfluencies.
On the other hand, in Ahmed’s case: (V) less linguistically and functionally competent with 76% correctness; (F) giving an impression of nervousness and uncertainty at first but appearing relaxed afterward; (H) larger and simpler hand gesture, relaxed posture indicating his control of the situation and confidence; (B) using body movements clearly and as conversation management device. Altogether, Ahmed not only appears to relax during the interview, but to take control of the process. His use of body movements, head position, hand gestures, and facial expression all serve as conversational management device that allow him to compensate for his weak verbal skills. As a result, the finding suggests that the acquisition nonverbal competence by adult second language learners plays a critical role in the assessment of their overall communicative competence.
‘A Quantitative And Qualitative Analysis Of Speech Markers In The Native And Second Language Speech Of Bilinguals’ by Marian Olynak, Alison d’ Anglejan and David Sankoff The purpose of this study is to explore how phenomena other than language proficiency as measured by conventional tests are related to first and second language fluency, exclusively focusing on the profile of hesitation phenomena found in the speech of French-English bilinguals in their native and second language. Ten high and ten low-fluency speakers were tape-recorded with their peers in their native and nonnative language in three different situations, English planned (EP), French unplanned (FU), and English unplanned (EU). Five classified speech markers were examined: filled pause, repeats, repair conversations, and unfilled pause transitions. Examples of classified speech markers are as follow.
First one, serve as pause fillers and part of repeat and repair conversion: If we uh increase the angle. Second, serve as intonation contributor to an accurate distinction between repeats and self-repairs: Like, uh, all kinds of, uh, all kinds of little. Third, repair conversations, modified an element of speech that has been produced: It’s like, it was kind of a preparatory year. Then, unfilled pause serve as a pause/ glottal within a word as repair: A hun/hundred of feet. Last, transitions: You’ve got to try to meet her, uh, well, down where you are.
The authors report a number of findings. First of all, the high-proficiency speakers used makers that placed fewer demands in the listener. In contrast, the markers used low-proficiency learners called for constant readjustments in the part of the listener. And the researcher further conclude that “such readjustment are disruptive in interpersonal communication and may cause the interlocutor to avoid nonessential interactions with less fluent bilingual.” Second, the profile for the utterance of the speech markers was similar for the individual in his native and second language, providing evidence that speakers transfer aspects of their pause patterns from the native language to the second. Third, more markers were used in first language than in the second language and more markers were used both in planned than in unplanned situations.
The researchers concluded that speakers lose some fluency with respect to hesitation markers in their second language and unplanned varieties of their first. Fourth, markers in transitionally relevant places were used more frequently by high-proficiency speakers than by low-proficiency speakers. In contrast, low-proficiency speakers used a greater proportion of markers in nontransitionally relevant places. According to the authors, this made the low-proficiency speakers seem less fluent. The research results prove that fluent and less fluent French-English bilinguals differ not in terms of quantity of speech markers used, but rather in terms of their nature of quality. Regressive type speech markers adversely affect the listeners. In addition, testee’s speech production in an oral interview situation is indicative of his least fluent variety if interlanguage.
These chapters confirm that transfer affects the second languages learner’s ability to converse competently in his or her new language. All the authors provide evidences that are consistent with the claim that second language learners rely on interactional patterns from their first language when communicating using second language. For instance, Sato describes intermediate ESL students who seem to rely on “ethnic” interactional patterns. She suggests that Asians might be “constrained by their notions of turn-taking in class discussion.” However, she doesn’t specify the countries that research subjects are from. Also, Neu notes that Japanese subject sat through the entire interview with an expressionless face due to his cultural background.
Last but not least, Olynyak, d’Anglejan, and Sankoff provide the most direct evidence for language transfer, since they demonstrate that learners employ the same hesitation profile from their first language when conversing in their second language. Hence, cultural constraints may play a greater role for some aspects of communicative competence than for others. Sato points out that the intermediate learners in her study were unable to employ “American” patterns of turn-taking in the ESL classroom. It might be that cultural constraints governing turn-taking in American classrooms have stronger cultural constraints than other conversational patterns. Similarly, studies by Sato, and Olynyak, d’Anglejan, and Sankoff suggest that hesitation patterns might also be strongly affected by cultural constraints. Implications
The studies reported in these chapters have implications for teaching and research as well. Sato suggests that “closer attention to aspects of turn-taking, such as bidding, may enable teachers to modify their own patterns of discourse management and thereby maximize the learners’ use of their second language in the classroom.” Olynyak, d’Anglejan, and Sankoff discuss their study in light of testing. They suggests that testee’s speech production in an oral interview is indicative of his or her least fluent variety of interlanguage; the evaluation of second language proficiency by means of an interview should comprise only a small portion of testee’s overall assessment; subject who is not fluent in his or her first language may probably transfer the use of hesitation markers to second language production; and instead of comparing a second language learner’s speech performance with a native speaker, we should compare his or her speech in second language with his or her speech in first language.
In terms of research, the chapters suggest that the analysis of discourse competence must go beyond the study of rules of conversation. According to Olynyak, d’Anglejan, and Sankoff’s research, the study of discourses competence must also entail an analysis of the rules and principles underlying situational appropriacy.
Developing Communicative Competence in a Second Language (Issues in Second Language Research), Robin C. Scarcella, Elaine Andersen, Stephen D. Krashen