LINGUIST List 15.2780

Tue Oct 05 2004

Diss: Applied Ling/Lang Acquisition: Burdine: ' Means..'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


        1.    Stephanie Burdine, Means to an End: Communication Strategies in French Immersion

Message 1: Means to an End: Communication Strategies in French Immersion

Date: 01-Oct-2004
From: Stephanie Burdine <>
Subject: Means to an End: Communication Strategies in French Immersion

Institution: Rice University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 23-Jun-1905

Author: Stephanie Burdine

Dissertation Title: Means to an End: Communication Strategies in French Immersion

Linguistic Field(s):
Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s):
French Language Code: FRN

Dissertation Director:
Michael Barlow
Raymond Mougeon

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation analyzes patterns of communication strategy usage in the
speech of 41 French immersion students in Toronto, Canada collected from
informal student interviews with a native French speaker. The study
contributes to a more complete understanding of communication strategies in
French immersion by addressing such issues as the range and frequency of
strategies; the interplay between strategies; the interaction between
participants related to strategy usage; and the effect of extralinguistic
factors on strategy usage (e.g. students' sex; age/grade; French language
media exposure; time in a Francophone environment; stays with a Francophone
family; home language).

Strategies were coded and frequency counts obtained. The strategies
identified included: L1-based (language switch and foreignization);
L2-based (circumlocution, word coinage and approximation); sociopragmatic
(appeal for assistance, message abandonment, and mime); and
ambiguous/potentially L3-based strategies. While students use a range of
strategies, the tendency is to rely on language switch. Rather than risk
inaccuracy in the TL, students prefer to be economical and, assuming that
the interviewer is bilingual, are confident that she will understand the
strategy. Appeals for assistance from the interviewer are also frequent,
demonstrating that the presence of an interlocutor plays an essential role
in how students deal with lexical problems.

The emergence of a strategy continuum provided support for the notion that
some strategies are riskier than others by showing that frequency and a
perceived level of risk associated with that strategy is related to the
amount of follow-up that a strategy receives. Follow-up strategies occur
(i) for the purpose of correcting a prior usage; (ii) due to awareness of
French/English translation difficulties; (iii) due to uncertainties about
TL usage; and/or (iv) as means to treat the interview as a learning
experience or to meet expectations of speaking French during the interview.

Statistical analyses revealed that L1-based, sociopragmatic, and
ambiguous/potential L3-based strategies are correlated with some of the
social factors examined, including extracurricular exposure to French and
age/grade, but not students' sex.

It is concluded that in spite of the non-conventional lexical choices in
students' TL messages, they are still comprehensible (i.e., meaningful) to
the interlocutor and communication goals are achieved successfully.

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