Teaching Gambits: The Effect of Instruction and Task Variation on the Use of Conversation Strategies by Intermediate Spanish Students



Abstract: Gambits are words or phrases that facilitate the flow of conversation by giving the speaker time to organize his or her thoughts, maintain or relinquish the floor, expound on an argument, or specify the function of a particular utterance. This study, based in part on previous research by Wildner-Bassett (1984), examined (1) whether gambit use in Spanish can be taught effectively in the classroom, allowing the student to use gambits appropriately in unplanned speech; (2) how the type of interactional situation (a friendly discussion versus a complaint) affects the production of gambits; and (3) what types of gambits show the greastest increases in use for each interactional situation. Participants were intermediate students. A repeated-measures design was used. Results suggest that students can be taught to use gambits effectively and appropriately in the classroom. In addition, the nature of the interactional situation seemed to make a difference in the ability of the students to produce gambits in spontaneous interaction and in the types of gambits they produced.