Posted by: Admin | January 27, 2011

Enhancing Students’ Speaking Skills through Communication Strategies

Written by: Mobit

Student of Post Graduate UHAMKA Jakarta



People learn language is in order to able to communicate with others. Learning language means not only a study of language itself, but study how to use the language to interact with others. Leaning language is not also learning the structures, sounds or words, but learning to communicate (Finochario  & Brumfit, 1983). Accordingly, the main objective of language learning should be focused on how the learner can apply the language in real situations by using target language.

Practicing the target language into real situation both in the classroom and outside of the classroom are very important to stimulate the students’ habit. By means of the process indicates that the learning process will simultaneously build students’ experience to create communication. Meanwhile, student will automatically make trial and error in either oral (spoken) or written communication.

In orally communication, learner will meet more complexity problem than written one. Nunan (1993) explained that

spoken language consist of short, often fragmentary utterances, in range of pronunciation. There is a great deal of repetition and overlap between one speaker and another, and speakers frequently use non specific references (they tend to say ‘thing’, ‘it’, and ‘this’ rather than ‘the left-handed monkey wrench’, or ‘the highly perfumed French poodle on the sofa.

People or non-native language learners tend to feel shy, incompetence, un-confidence, lack of vocabularies, or sometimes avoid a communication due to making mistakes. To bridge the facts, it is very important to enhance our student to be confidence and fluently to communicate with others with target language. Therefore students should be encouraged by facilitate them the communication strategy to back up their mistake during having conversation. (Saiz: 1990)  Practically it will enable student managing communication either in the classroom or out side of the classroom.


For these previous backgrounds, I take the discussion on the strategies of building communication through Communication strategies. By the background, there are four problem questions will be offered to empower the discussion:

  1. What is a communication?
  2. What is communication strategy?
  3. How to manage communication through communication strategies?
  4. What is the benefit for student to build communication?


  1. Communication

Communication is an evitable thing for human.  They live in social environment in which togetherness, sociality, spirits of cooperativeness are attempted. They should communicate with others either to share or to have something. People can also fulfill their daily demands by using communication process with other. Regarding to the communication, Dance and Larson, as quoted by Beebe, defined that communication “is the process of acting on information” (Beebe, 2004).

As member of society, people communicate with other have various objectives.  They live with other people with different backgrounds, characters, cultures and interests.  Hence, the ability of comprehending others while having communication and the ability of conveying messages should be prepared in order to have good result of communications, otherwise they will miscommunication or stuck of communication.  Since communication does not operate in simple way, or probably linier without obstacles, learner ideally are prepared to cope with the problem when anytime occur.  What is being communicated by communicator will not directly received by the commune, because according to Bebee (2004) communication does not operate in a simple, linier, what you send is what you received process.

Because of the complexity of communication, people ideally are able to identify the person whom communicates with and the objective of communication. People usually build of communication,’ because of the challenge we have in understanding one another” (ibid. p.5). Many things can be understood by communication, such as interest, hobby, information, family or even ideals. Human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and sharing that sense with others by creating meaning through verbal and non verbal message’ (ibid.p.5)

  1. Communication Strategies

Communication, in learning language context is different from another one. Communication in the first term means the communication which is tried while the system of communication is still building. Student will feel difficult to build communication by using the building which does not finished yet.

Since the learners are still in building system, they can not convey the message well; similar to what Saiz said that there is no ideal speaker for the language learner because they are still in building process of communication. Saiz (1990) then described her students to empower the situation of non-native language learner while trying to build communication. She said “some manage to convey their message well; other still find themselves abandoning their ideas in mid-sentence, or avoiding communication for fear of making mistakes, for lack of confidence”

The situation that has identified by Saiz did not happen at that time, but it also occurs at the recent time and takes place at anywhere.  To bridge the situation and to help student minimize the stuck in communication, they should be taught the communication strategies.

Many researchers have analyzed the strategies of communication to help learner be confidence to communicate with others. Tarone (1977) defines the “communication strategies relate to a mutual attempt of two interlocutors to agree on a meaning in situations where requisite meaning structures do not seem to be clear”. Moreover, Corder (1978) said that “communication strategies a a systematic technique employed by a speaker to express his meaning when faced with some difficulty” Communication strategies are potentially conscious plans for solving what to an individual presents itself as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal (Faerch and Kasper 1983).

The strategies of communication are very beneficial for the students who want to be confident and fluency in interact with other. By means of the strategies, students are facilitated to alternate others way of communication in order to handle when they are getting stuck. Consequently, they are ready to have many kinds of communication in various situations.

  1. The kinds of communication strategies


Communication strategies can be considered by the learner when the difficulties of conveying messages during communication process. Tarone (1983), as quoted by Saiz mentioned some commonly strategies used when faced with some difficulties in conveying messages:

  1. Avoidance

Avoidance is strategies that used to avoid the risk when the speakers make mistakes. Learners usually get fear when facing unpredictable situation during convey message so they are fear. By means of avoidance, the learner can avoids certain topic that they are not familiar with the vocabularies related to the topic. Saiz (1990) suggested to start talking about a topic but abandons it because they are unable to continue the communication.

  1. Paraphrase

Paraphrase is rewording the statements, sentences or messages to make the learners themselves understood of the meaning. The learners are possible to use other vocabularies, though they are not accurate, to utter things but are still in similar meaning (approximately) (e.g. He gave me a big watch to hang on the wall) for clock.  Besides, approximately, the learner can use “word Coinage” strategy. It means ‘the learner makes up a word in the foreign language. I saw an air ball. (balloon) (Tarone).

  1. Transfer (Foreignizing)

Transfer is the way of conveying messages that the learner borrows foreign language. Saiz pointed some strategies to help to utter namely literal translation and language switch. Literal translation means the learner translates word for word into the foreign language. Learner can use various ways such as on the lexical, phonological or syntactic level.

Syntactic: He is a man intelligent.

Lexical: He’s a technic.

Phonological: The government in responsible.

Language switch means the learners, in conveying some messages use the native language. To an Indonesia learner can directly use the Indonesian to bridge finding the difficult vocabulary.

  1. Appeals for Assistance

This means while having conversation learner ask the partner of certain vocabulary that they are stuck to find. For instance; How do you call…?

  1. Mime

Mime has a meaning that learner can use their non-verbal signs to substitute some difficult vocabularies. Gestures are possible to empower words within communication process.

  1. The benefits of communication in foreign language for the children


Communication strategies are very important for language learners. Learners commonly tend to face many problems to convey messages regarding to communication process. While they are difficult to find the appropriate expressions, they tend to say nothing. These situations directly will jam the communication process. That is why; comprehending the communication strategies will help students to develop their inter-language in non defensive way (Saiz: 1990).

Learners ideally make communication with other (people, learner) both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Building communication in the classroom is easier than outside one, because there are many supporting condition there. On the other hand, teacher will stimulate student to be fluency speaking in the target language, other students do too. Hence, these situations are not the most challenging obstacles. In contrast, building communication outside of the classroom will be more challenging due to the limitation supporting aspects. Then, the role of communication strategies is to aid student to bridge the gap between the classroom and outside world.

Non-native language learners have some obstacles that often make unconfident to communicate in target language. Besides un-confidence, learners tend to think many things related to the language they are going to use. The communication strategies will help them to make the communication run well.



Learners learn other their native language is to communicate with other with the target language. The communication will not only occur in the classroom but also brought outside of the classroom. Because the situations outside of the classroom are very different from in the classroom, learner should be ready facing the unpredictable situation. It means that the partner of having communication are public, consequently they have different characters of language meanwhile they have different way of communication.

To cope with the problem within having communication learner have many strategies. There are many strategies can be used to handle the problem like avoidance, paraphrase, transfer, appeal for assistance and mime. By means of them, students are facilitated to solve their problem to make them be confidence with their English communication.

Teacher consciously should convince student for facing some various situation. They either directly or indirectly will meet problem of communication they are going to do. Therefore repeating reminders must be prepared in order to convey what they are going to convey without missing the objective of communication.


  1. Beebe, Steven A, Beebe, Susan J, Ivy Diana K. 2001. Communication Principles for a Lifetime. Person. Boston
  2. Nunan, David, 1989, Designing Task for the Communicative Classroom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sidney
  3. Saiz, Marcia, Communication Strategies, English Teaching Forum Vol. XXVII No 4 October 1990.

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