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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of task complexity & proficiency on foreigner talk discourse and communication strategies in the NS-NNS interaction Shortreed, Ian McFarland


An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of task complexity and learner proficiency in native speaker (NS)/non-native speaker (NNS) interaction. A total of 24 Japanese NSs and 12 NNSs subjects representing three levels of proficiency, low (n=4), intermediate (n=4) and advanced (n=4), were randomly assigned to dyads to complete two communication tasks, each differing in relative complexity. Three composite variables made up of 32 dependent variables were used to measure the frequency of formal reduction, communication and repair strategies across both tasks. The hypothesis that NSs would simplify their speech and use a higher frequency of interactional modifications in accordance with the level of proficiency of the NNSs and the complexity of the tasks was tested. The results for the first independent variable of proficiency, indicated there was a trend showing that NSs simplified their speech when addressing NNSs in general and in particular, when addressing lower level learners of Japanese. The results for the second independent variable of task complexity revealed that there was a significant effect on the number of reduction, communication and repair strategies used on the more complex task for all groups. These findings are discussed in relation to previous research on NS-NNS interaction and implications for second language teaching are explored.

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