Introduction and Historical Background
Increasing students' motivation and performance has always been a primary concern of language teachers.However, when trying to communicate in a second language (L2) students are often faced with linguistic problems due to their limited command of an L2. This can lead to a complete breakdown of communication,resulting in the students' reduced confidence in their ability to communicate and use an L2.
The techniques described below aimed at encouraging students to try to overcome these problems by using what are known as communication strategies (CSs). CSs have been defined as "mutual attempts of two interlocutors to agree on meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures do not seen to be shared" (Bialystok, E. and Frohlich, M., 1980:420). When faced with a breakdown in communication, students can either dispense with their original communicative goal or reach their original communicative goal via a different route by making use of the limited linguistic means they have at their disposal.
Broadly speaking, CSs can be divided into two groups: reduction strategies and compensatory strategies.When students either fail or abandon their original communicative goal, they make use of reduction strategies.However, when students employ an alternative method to reach this goal they are using compensatory strategies.This class encouraged students to make use of compensatory strategies to bridge the communication gap.
Since the mid-seventies, CSs have been the focus of increasing interest (Tarone, Cohen & Dumas, 1976; Tarone, 1977; Faerch & Kasper, 1983). Most of these early studies focused on defining CSs and developing methods of classifying them. Other studies (Bialystok & Frohlich, 1980) tried to examine the relationship between CSs use and learner characteristics such as L2 proficiency level, L1 background, and personality. Some later studies tried to establish the comprehensibility and effectiveness of students' ability to use compensatory strategies (Bialystok, 1981; Corder, 1983).
Research into the use of CSs has been further stimulated with the increase in more communicative approaches to language learning and teaching. One of the effects of this more communicative focus was that grammatical correctness was no longer considered the primary aim of most language classrooms. Another effect was the idea that sometimes grammatical accuracy had to be sacrificed in order to reach a common communicative goal. The aim of reaching a communicative goal encouraged teachers and students to realize the value of compensatory strategies. Once it was understood that it is impossible to teach students all the language they will need in any possible situation, teachers became more open to encouraging students to use compensatory strategies both inside and outside the foreign language classroom.
Over the years, two general approaches to compensatory strategies can be seen (Yule & Tarone, 1997). A common approach to compensatory strategies focuses on the cognitive processes involved in the selection of one strategy over a different strategy. Researchers taking this approach believe that students' cognitive processes are not affected by teaching and therefore believe that it is impossible to teach communication strategies in an L2 (Bialystok, 1990; Kellerman, 1991).
However, these days many researchers and teachers take the position that training in compensatory strategies is a practical and effective pedagogical tool, one that can provide authentic communicative practice, as well as the opportunities to learn and practice a core set of English linguistic expressions (Konishi & Tarone, 2004).This is the position taken when designing and implementing training in compensatory strategies in the General Education English classes.
One of the aims of this study was to examine the relationship between students' TOEIC score and their ability to use compensatory strategies ? which compensatory strategies did they most frequently employ, which did they avoid and how successful were they in re-establishing communication in the exercises designed to include a communication gap.