Interlanguage conformity in strategic competence : ability to use compensatory strategies by second language learners in referential communication
This study investigates the use of strategic competence (SC) by L2 learners in referential communication within the framework of "IL-conformity", a process which is believed to be partly responsible for SLA. It explores the extent to which IL SC conforms to the similarities of this competence in the performance of speakers of different native languages (Lls). It also examines whether the IL-conformity, if any, is task-in/dependent and relates to L2 proficiency levels. Strategic competence refers here to the knowledge/ability to use compensatory (problem-solving) strategies to solve communication problems and to achieve the intended goals. Although studies on SLA have shown that IL conforms to the general (universal) properties of human language, they have focused on the grammatical aspects of language. The communicative aspects of language, particularly SC, have not been touched upon within this framework to date. In this study, as a point of departure, two hypotheses are tested: (1) IL SC will conform more or less to the general properties (or similarities) of SC observed in the performance of speakers of different Lls across various tasks. That is, if particular strategies are used similarly by the speakers of different Lis in performing a given task, such strategies will be used by IL speakers for the same task to a certain extent, and if task variability causes various performance of SC, IL-conformity will occur across various tasks. (2) Degree of IL-conformity corresponds to the degree of L2 proficiency level. The performance of SC of 30 English and 30 Persian adult L1 speakers, and two groups of 30 Farsi-speaking ESL university students of different L2 levels was studied. The subjects communicated three different tasks to their interlocutors. The results appeared to be in support of the hypotheses. The possible reasons for the speakers' strategic language behaviour are discussed along with the theoretical and pedagogical implications for instructed SLA.