Communication strategies for effective and cooperative intercultural interaction

Since the 1980s mainstream ELT has been largely constructed around communicative methodologies, in which 'communicative strategies' have played a significant part. Although they have been classified in different ways within that time (see, e.g., Rubin 1987; Oxford 1990; Cohen and Macaro 2007), what they have in common is that they are all based on NS-NS communication strategies rather than on intercultural communicative ones. The ELF perspective on communicative strategies is rather different. Within an ELF-oriented perspective, Seidlhofer (2011: 199) writes that 'the criterion for selecting language to be taught is not whether it is proper English as measured against standard norms or the convention of NS usage but whether it is appropriate English - locally appropriate to the purpose of developing a capability in the language'. In order to develop learners' ability to initiate, establish and maintain meaningful and effective communication when interacting with speakers of WE or with other non-native speakers, learners can be involved in noticing activities, for example of the communication strategies as used by characters in video extracts, as well as of those the learners normally use in their L1. Learners may then be engaged in interactive tasks where they are required to actively use these strategies for effective communication. Given the likelihood that our students' opportunities of language use in the 'real world' will see a plurality of Englishes, not least in ELF settings, it would seem appropriate and useful to expose them to how L2 speakers effectively communicate in different contexts. This would provide them with a perspective on how they 'can be(come) effective users of English' (Seidlhofer 2011: 197; cf. also Hino 2012). Rather than mimicking NS speech, within contexts which are mostly - or only - related to NSs, it would seem more sensible for learners to be exposed and encouraged to experiment with effective uses of English involving both native and non-native, bilingual users of English; 'in this view, learners are not learning a language but learning to language' (Seidlhofer 2011: 197, emphasis in original).

Possible activities for raising learners' awareness of communicative strategies would expose learners to samples of social exchanges from video extracts of contemporary TV programs and focus their attention upon the use of effective communication strategies.

 
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