How to Avoid Language Breakdown? Circumlocution!


  • Ann Masters Salomone Ph.D.,

    1. Kent State University
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      Ohio State University is Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Pedagogy at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.

  • Florence Marsal M.A.

    1. University of Connecticut
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      Kent State University is a Ph.D. student in French Literature at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.


ABSTRACT  Circumlocution can prevent communication breakdown and is a required function at the Advanced level on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency scale. To encourage this communicative strategy, the researchers conducted a study of two intermediate college French classes. One class was encouraged to circumlocute; the other was not. Pretests and posttests measured gains in circumlocution. At the end of the term, both groups had significantly improved their ability to circumlocute. Although statistical results did not differ significantly between the two groups, qualitative data revealed that the experimental group learned to focus better on the salient features of lexical items and, therefore, to circumlocute more efficiently. Circumlocution games to encourage both linguistic competence and cognitive flexibility are included.