Other-Initiated Repair Strategies in Solving Understanding Problems in EFL Learners Conversations

Madar Aleksius and Ali, Saukah Ali


The aims of this study were to investigate the employment of Other-Initiated Repair Strategies (OIR Strategies) in solving understanding problem in EFL learners’ conversation and to examine the kinds of trouble sources that prompt the employment of OIR Strategies. The participants were nine EFL learners participating in a speaking class in small university in Indonesia. To elicit the learners’ conversations two communicative tasks, Spot the Difference and Desert Island were used.  The learners’ conversations during task performance were video-recorded, then, transcribed using the conventions proposed by Markee (2000) and analyzed qualitatively using Conversation Analysis method.  The results showed that EFL learners managed to employ eight types of OIR Strategies comprising of 62 instances in total. The strategies are unspecified repair, interrogative repair, partial repeat plus a question word repair, partial repeat repair, understanding check repair, request for repetition, request for definition, and correction repair. Three different types of trouble sources triggered the use of OIR Strategies, namely linguistic-related problem, interactional-related problem, and meaning-related problem. The study demonstrated that by employing different OIR Strategies, even EFL learners with limited proficiency in English managed to take initiatives to overcome the understanding problem in conversations as part of their learning process. Therefore, the EFL teachers need to consider incorporating the teaching of OIR Strategies as part of their speaking class to improve the students’ fluency


Conversation Analysis; Other-Initiated Repair Strategy; EFL learners


Bolden, G.B. (2011). On the Organization of Repair in Multiperson Conversation: The Case of “Other”-Selection in Other-Initiated Repair Sequences. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 44(3), pp.237-262 .Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2011.591835

Bolden, G.B. (2012). Across languages and cultures: Brokering problems of understanding in conversational repair. Language in Society, 41, pp.97–121. doi:10.1017/S0047404511000923

Buckwalter, P. (2001). Repair sequences in Spanish L2 dyadic discourse: a descriptive study. The Modern Language Journal. 85(3), pp. 380-389.

Canale, M. and M. Swain. (1980). ‘Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing.’ Applied Linguistics 11, pp.1-47.

Carroll, D. (2000). "Precision timing in novice-to-novice L2 conversations." Issues in Applied Linguistics 11(1), pp.67-110.

Dingemanse, M. & Enfield, N. J.( 2015). Other-initiated repairs across language: toward a typology of conversational structure. Open Linguistics, 1, 96-118. DOI 10.2478/opli-2014-0007

Dingemanse, M., Roberts, S.G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Blythe J., Drew, P., Floyd, S., Gisladottir, R.S., Kendrick, K.H., Levinson, S.C., Manrique, E., Rossi, G., and Enfield, N.J. (2015). Universal principles in the repair of communication problems. PLoS ONE. 10(9), pp.1-15. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0136100

Fotovatnia, Z. & Dorri, A. (2013). Repair in EFL Classroom Talk. Theory and Research in Language Studies. 3(6), pp.950-956. Doi: 10.4304/tpls.3.6.950-956

He, A.W., & Young, R. (1998). Language proficiency interviews: a discourse approach. In A.W. He & R.Young (Editors). Talking and testing: discourse approaches to the assessment of oral proficiency. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company: pp.1-25

Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R., (2002). Conversation Analysis: Principles, Practices, and Application. USA: Blackwell Publishers Inc.

Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R. (1998). Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Huth, T. (2011). Conversation Analysis and Language Classroom Discourse. Language and Linguistics Compas, 5(5), pp.297–309, 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2011.00277.x

Khodadady, E. & Alifathabady, J. (2014). Repair in EFL talk: a case of Iranian intermediate and advanced EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Teaching, 4 (10): pp.2129-2137. Academy manufactured in Finland. Doi: 10.4304/tpls.4.10.2129-2137

Klippel, F. (1984). Keep Talking: Communicative Fluency Activities for Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lerner, G. H. (1991). "On the syntax of sentence-in-progress." Language in Society, 20, pp.441-458

Liddicoat, A. J. (2007). An Intorduction to Conversation Analysis. London & New York: Continuum.

Liebscher, G., & Dailey- O Cain J. (2003). Conversational repair as a role- defining mechanism in classroom interaction . The Modern Language Journal, 87 (iii), pp.375-390

Lilja, N. (2014). Partial repetition as other-initiations of repair in second language talk: Re-establishing understanding and doing learning. Journal of Pragmatics. 71, pp.98-116. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/1016/j.pragma.2014.07.011

Markee, N. (2000). Conversation Analysis. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Seedhouse, P. (2005). Conversation Analysis and language learning. Language Teaching. 38, pp.165–187. doi:10.1017/S0261444805003010

Tavakoli, H. (2012). A Dictionary of Research Methodology and Statistics in Applied Linguistics. Tehran: Rahnama Press.

Tudini, V. (2016). Repair and codeswithing for learning in online intercultural talk. System, 6, pp.15-25. Available online http.dx.doi.org./j.system.2016.06.011

Wang, J. & Wu, J. (2015). Conversation repair in the class with the Chinese as a foreign language. Theory and Practice in Language Teaching, 5 (7), pp.1525-1533. Academy manufactured in Finland. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.15507/tpls.0507.29

Wong, J., & Waring, H.Z. (2010). Conversation Analysis and Second Language Pedagogy. New York: Routledge

Yasui, E. (2010). Repair and language proficiency: differences of advanced and beginning language learners in an English-Japanese conversation group. TPFLE, 14 (1), pp.41-57

Yule, G. (1997). Referential Communication Tasks. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associations.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11591/edulearn.v12i1.7530


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Universitas Ahmad Dahlan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Journal of Education and Learning (EduLearn)
ISSN: 2089-9823, e-ISSN 2302-9277
Published by: Universitas Ahmad Dahlan (UAD) in collaboration with Institute of Advanced Engineering and Science (IAES)

View EduLearn Stats