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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Referential communication strategies as a function of accessing conceptual representations of abstract shapes in a second or foreign language Schuetze, Ulf

Abstract

This thesis investigates referential communication strategies using the theoretical framework of Levelt's (1989) model of speech production and its application to second language speech production (de Bot, 1992). The investigation focuses on utterances of adult speakers who solve a referential communication task in their first language (English) and their second language (German). Two different groups participate in the study. The first group consists of students from a large West Canadian University who learn German in a foreign language classroom, whereas the second group consists of native speakers of English who work in Germany and acquire German in a second language environment. All participants describe abstract shapes while their utterances are being recorded and later transcribed for analysis. Quantitative and qualitative methods measuring the time and words reflect the strategies used to describe the shapes. The analysis of the data reveals that the participants in Germany are more accurate in their descriptions and solve the referential problems more successfully than the participants from the West Canadian University do. The direct contact these participants have with the German language and culture proves to be beneficial to the process of generating a comprehensible message in referential communication. The study concludes with suggestions for the teaching of German as a second language and recommendations are made for future research on language acquisition the learning environment.

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