An examination of the use of repair strategies of elementary English as a second language (ESL) students



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The primary purpose of this study was to explore conversational repair strategies employed by elementary level ESL students in their classroom. This study investigated repair strategies that were employed by ESL students and determined if there were differences in the usage of repair strategies by class types and grade levels. This study examined how elementary ESL students? repair strategies dealt with communication breakdown in their ESL classroom from a conversation analysis perspective. The data were collected from five participants who were in two different types of ESL classes: (1) instruction centered class; and (2) language related game-playing class. In order to investigate the variable of grade levels, first and second grade students? ESL class and third and fourth grade students? tutoring class were chosen. Twenty-four class hours were observed with a video camera. The data were transcribed following the transcription conventions of conversation analysis. The results derived from the study were following; 1. In this study the elementary ESL students used nine types of repair strategies. They were: 1) unspecified, 2) interrogatives, 3) (partial) repeat, 4) partial repeat plus question word, 5) understanding check, 6) requests for repetition, 7) request for definition, translation or explanation, 8) correction, and 9) nonverbal strategies. The elementary ESL students used understanding check and partial repeat more frequently. 2. The findings indicated that both class types and grade levels influenced the types and distribution of the students? repair strategies. 3. Instruction class produced more amounts of conversational repair than game-playing class. However, in both types of classes, first/second grade students employed understanding check the most frequently, and third/fourth grade students partial repeat the most. 4. In the first/second grade students? repair practices, understanding check was observed in the teacher?s direction. In the third/fourth grade students? repair practices, however, understanding check was observed in the content of instruction. Request for repetition and request definition, translation, or explanation were not observed in the first/second grade students? class but used in the third/fourth grade students? class. 5. Students? decisions on the types and frequency of their repair strategies were influenced by their familiarity with the native speakers.