Communication Strategies

During conversation, certain communication strategies (Tarone, 1979, 1980) are used by second language learners, and even native speakers to aid them in communication and negotiation.  The more of these strategies you apply, the more successful your language learning experience and contact with speakers will be.



1.    Negotiate Meaning

  • Confirmation Checks: Repetition and Rising Intonation
  • Clarification Requests: What do you mean?  I don’t understand. What’s that
  • Comprehension Checks: Do you know what I’m saying, Right, You Know

2. Circumlocution

  • Describe the thing or concept
  • Used in conjunction with adjective clauses, e.g.,

3. Translation

  • Ask for a translation if possible

4.  Topic Avoidance

  • Switch the topic of conversation

5. Appeal for assistance

  • Ask your interlocutor to help you find the word

6. Mime

  • Use your body to demonstrate an action or concept

7. Point

  • Use the gesture of pointing to call attention to the object

8.  Approximate

  • Kinda, sort of, almost like + a word which resembles the target word

9. Coin

  • The learner makes up a new word to describe the thing or concept

10. Code Switch

  • The learner uses their second language to communicate either in one word or longer stretches

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