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Reconceptualising And Exploring Oral Communicative Competence: A Multimodal Perspective

Posted on:2012-08-22Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:M W PanFull Text:PDF
GTID:1115330368475818Subject:English Language and Literature
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Setting the perspective of multimodality studies as a point of departure,the present study reconceptualises oral communicative competence and proposes a corresponding framework from a multimodal angle , based on which the oral communicative competence of Chinese college EFL learners is comprehensively and meticulously probed into with both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.The study attempts to address the research questions in three domains.First,how is to establish the research framework with multimodality theories'incorporated into the study of oral communicative competence?How characteristic and explanatory is the framework to be proposed?Second,what are the characteristics of Chinese college EFL learners'oral communicative competence against the measurements in the proposed framework?Are there any significant differences regarding cormnunicative competence across learners of various language proficiencies?Third,how can the interfaces of different modalities be effectively examined?Are there any significant inter-modality differences among learners ofvarious language proficiencies?To what extent Can modalities per se and inter-modality interfaces enhance de faCtO oral communication effectively? qqae dissertation first reviews the notional evolution of Communicative Competence.In response to the questions of"What is communicative competence?"and "What constitutes communicative competence?",the study focuses on Communicative Language Ability(CLA)model posited by Bachman(1990) , whose definition leads to the working definition of oral communicative competence in this study,viz.with the componential concepts of CLA model and comprehensive evaluation of accuracN fluency and appropriateness as the guidelines,the overall performance observed from the learners'verbal and nonverbal deliveries,conversation management strategies and psychOphysiological mechanism functioning.In order to denotatively and connotatively enrich CLA model,this study puts forward the possibility of studying learner oral communicative competence from a multimodal perspective and elaborates,concerning necessity, ti:asibility and significance,on how systemic—functional-linguistics—based and activity—theory—based multimodality studies can be embedded into the investigation of oral communicative competence.Examining CLA model from a multimodal perspective,the present study proposes a framework comprising two modules:oralness and nonverbal communication features,both of which not only faithfully reflect communicative language ability but also manifest various assessment domains in correspondence with the basic properties of spoken language.The module of oralness encapsulates oral written Hnguistic features and tones . The former is brought forth with regard to Biber'S(1988)Multi-Feature~Multi-Dimension Analysis Framework while the categorisation oftones is borrowed from Brazil'S(1985,1997)phonology system.The module of nonverbal communication features consists of agent-based and environment-basedparametres.The former Can be classified into eye contact(gaze),gesture and chunk movement,facial expression and head movement,and the environment—based parametres refer to all physical objects in a particular discourse setting and are closely related to the agent—based parametres. The framework is proven to be valid and explanatory through a tentative validation study,yet local fine-tuning is made for the purpose ofpracticality. In order to possibly compare the differences among learners acros~different proficiencies in their oral communicative competence in a multimodal perspective,the present study classified the participants into advanced, intermediate and elementary levels in accordance with their individual scores in College English Test(CET) . Advanced learners refer to those who passed'CETBand 6 :intermediateleamersarethosewhofailedinCETBand 6 but passedCETBand 4; elementary learners did not pass CET Band 4.Regarding the module of oralness,the research finds that the observed leamers'oral English,on the whole,presents more linguistic features of written language,and that there is significant difference among learners of various language proficiencies in this regard.There is a higher degree of oralness by advanced leamers in comparison with the previous studies of the oralness by native speakers of English.By contrast,the intermediate—and elementary—level counterparts exhibit their oral English with the overuse of written linguistic features.The significant differences mainly lie in the parametres of THAT-deletion . second person pronouns,amplifters, first person pronouns and WH-questions.The reasons for such differences Can be the discrepancies of various learners'strategic competences,idiomaticity in expression as well as their awareness of group discussion participation.With regard to the use of sentence tones,there is no significant difference among learners of various proficiencies.They all tend to use more level tones,which gives rise to less,fluctuation in their oral expression.Notwithstanding leamers perform quite well in the choices of rising and falling tones,they still make mistakes in applying the correct tones respectively to yes or no question and wh—question.In terms of falling-rising tone and rising—falling tone,there is an extremely low profile of using the former by the observed leamers,which can be understandable given the same case with native speakers of English.However,the underuse of the latter is echoed in the underuse of some particular sentence patterns,such as alternative questions and parallelism structures.In all likelihood,these characteristics are attributable to learrlers'under-growing awareness of group discussion participation,the dearth of comprehending the possible pragmatic functions of various tones and their inability to link sentence patterns with the corresponding tones.Turning to the module of nonverbal communication features,the present study has the following findings.Firrst,generally there is infrequent employment of various meaning—generative nonverbal activities by learners.In their nonverbal delivery,there are rnany,if not all, behaviours that are not conducive to message transmission,which might result from their comparative incapability of conversation management , weak strategic competence as well as ill—functioning of psychophysiological mechanism.Besides,learners,with insufficient awareness of involvement in group discussion,are less likely to regard themselves as group discussants;rather, they probably deem group discussions as merely a task for personal viewpoint presentationFherefore,more often than not,they have various interactions with the physical objects in the discourse environments,such as the teacher responsible for videotaping,the camera or other objects in the classrooms.Second,there are significant differences aCFOSS different proficiency groups in light of nonverbal communication features.Such differences are refected not only in the frequencies of their nonverbal behaviours in group discussions but also in the proportion of nonverbal activity cumulative dm。ations to the entire durations of group discussion.Learners of higher proficiency tend to pcrfonu better in both of the aforementioned measurenlents than those of intcnnediate—and elementary—level countcrparts.This Can be partly elucidated by advanced learners'comparative more progt ess and pal-tly by their incidental cultural acquisition of the English language.Third,there is a dearth of diversity of gestures,chunk movements and facial expressions in learners'performance.In particular,learners of elementary level are characterised by excessive and monotonous nonverbal activities with non—meaning—generative functions.In investigating the interface between the module of oralness and other modalities , this study nders an in—depth discussion on the issues oflearners'underuse ofwh—questions and overuse of level tone discovered above.The study finds that there are a number of nonverbal activities with explanatory functions replacing wh—questions in group discussions.Therefore,the module of oralness can be compensated by the nonverbal delivery.The discussion on the interface between nonverbal communication and other modalities is unfolded consecutively from the four parametres of nonverbal activities . Mainly such interfaces are manifested by the inter-modality intensification or divergence.It is found that learners of higher proficiency carl strategically utilise inter-modality intensification and effectively switch between inter—modality intensification and inter—modality compensation . Nonetheless , those of intermediate and elementary proficiencies cannot , and they usually resoR to nohverbal channel on condition that there arises a block in their verbal delivery.In addition,learners of various proficiencies,almost without any exception,present inter-modality divergence.Nevertheless,such divergence occurs for different reasons.Advanced learners diverge their verbal and nonverbal channels because they are prone to show themselves off ; whereas anxiety and diffidence in oral communication are thought to be the main reasons for the intermediate—and elementary—level counterparts.In the end,this dissertation yields some suggestions on how the research findings of the present study can be applied to the aspects enclosing spoken English teaching and learning in China.Considering spoken English teaching,it is suggested that teacher talk should be improved by imparting knowledge with more diversified modalities/channels to achieve optimised effects,and that the classroom set—up should be based on the consideration ofmaximum interactions between lcktl IICfS and all possible modalities.Regarding oral English coursebook compilation,this study suggests the development of all—encompassing coursebeoks,including hardcopy textbooks, audio—and visual—materials and learning platforms.It is also anticipated that the characteristics of lcatner oral English from a multimodal perspective should be part of the new—generation coursebook development.The last point of application consists in the oral Engiish assessment.The oral analytic rating scale can be designed as a rming—adjustable one.Particularly,the dimension of nonverbal communication,with more discriminating power for learners of advanced proficiency,can be orchestrated with other dimensions in rating scale design.
Keywords/Search Tags:oral communicative competence, strategic competence, psychophysiological mechanism, multimodality, modality interface, oralness, nonverbal communication features
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