Strategies of Repair in EFL Learners’ Oral Discourse

Ghaleb Rabab’ah


This study examines how EFL learners in the non-English speaking communities (Jordan and Germany) handle communication in story-retelling, and uncovers the repair strategies, which they deploy in order to overcome communication breakdowns and pass comprehensible messages to their interlocutors. The study also analyzes factors governing the EFL learners' preferences for employing repair strategies. It examines two repair strategies used by Jordanian and German EFL learners; self-initiated repair and repetition. The participants of this study were volunteer third-year students enrolled in the Linguistics Department at Chemnitz Technical University (Germany) and the University of Jordan (Jordan). Two short stories, selected from 100 free English short stories for ESL learners, were used to elicit data. The results of the analysis revealed that both German and Jordanian non-native speakers of English resort to strategies of repair in order to compensate for their lack of linguistic items or to gain time to retrieve linguistic item(s) and maintain conversation. Moreover, the results indicate that the Jordanian Arabic speaking subjects used strategies of repair more frequently, which was attributed to the fact that they produced more story events, which doubled the number of words in their oral production. Another finding was that repetition was used more frequently than self-initiated repair by both groups. The results of this study may provide some useful insights into syllabus design and English language teaching (ELT).

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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