Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1163–1183 | Cite as

Strategy Use in Oral Communication with Competent Synthesis and Complex Interaction

  • Xinhua Zhu
  • Xian LiaoEmail author
  • Choo Mui Cheong


Strategy use is a critical competence for academic achievement and problem solving in globalised and information-based knowledge economies. It involves skills such as synthesising information from task source materials and elaborating on interlocutors’ viewpoints during integrated group discussions. However, evidence from empirical studies on this topic is scarce. We recruited 171 local Hong Kong undergraduate students to participate in an integrated group discussion task in Putonghua as an L2 (i.e., second language) and to complete a strategy use inventory of the task. The students’ performances and responses were analysed with multiple statistical methods. The strategy use inventory of the integrated group discussion was validated. Five categories of strategy were identified: active engagement, non-verbal, synthesis, clarification and affective strategies. These strategies significantly predicted task performance (with 19.9% variation), leading to significant improvement in oral production quality. Both the synthesis (the integrative use of information) and active engagement (including elaborating viewpoints) strategies were significantly associated with task performance, which are rarely found in existing oral communication strategy inventories. The participants with high levels of task performance demonstrated significantly more use of the active engagement, clarification and synthesis strategies (with the first two merged in the complex interaction strategy) than those with medium or low task performance levels. The implications of the results are discussed.


Strategy use Integrated group discussion Undergraduate student Putonghua L2 



We would like to thank all the participants involved. We gratefully acknowledge the meticulous work of Mr. Hanliang Chen, Miss Xie Pan, and Miss Wing-Cze Wu as research/project assistants, and Yin Lei Wu as research associate in our research team. We had valuable comments from the journal’s editor Professor Rafael Art. Javier, and the anonymous reviewers, for which we are very grateful too.


The study is partly funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) through the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the project “Enhancement of Students’ Strategic Competence in Integrated Speaking Tasks by Developing Teaching and Assessment Instruments and Applying them in Teaching of Chinese Language (LEG16-19/SS/CBS16)”.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chinese and Bilingual StudiesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Chinese Language StudiesThe Education University of Hong KongTai Po N.THong Kong
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPok Fu LamHong Kong

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