Gambits in a New Light

Amir Nikmehr, Farahman Farrokhi


This paper examines the substance of a term, often heard but rarely explained, in the discussion of language teaching, namely gambits. More specially, the focus of this paper is to explore the inadequacies in the literature regarding gambits, in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the term. To this end, this paper argues that there may be more to gambits than merely strategies for communication. Gambits may serve a didactic function by shifting the learners’ attention to form, or as self-regulation devices mediating the process of learning which is a central concept in sociocultural theory. Not all the criteria mentioned in literature are efficient in distinguishing gambits. This paper concludes by introducing a new classification based on the specificity of gambit use to aid its perception. It is hoped that in this light, a deeper understanding of gambits can be achieved, one which can ease the process of learning, leading to more independent and effective learners.



Gambits, communication strategies, focus on form, self-regulatio

Full Text:



Bialystok, E. (1990). Communication strategies: A psychological analysis of second language use. USA: Blackwell Publishers.

Canale, M. (1983). From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. In J. C. Richards and R. W. Schmidt (Eds.). Language & communication (pp. 2-27). Harlow, UK: Longman.

Daly, J. A. and Wiemann, J. M. (Eds.). (1994). Strategic interpersonal communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Dornyei, Z., and Scott, M. L. (1995a). Communication strategies: What are they and what are they not? Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), Long Beach: CA.

Dornyei, Z., and Scott, M. L. (1995b). Communication strategies: An empirical analysis with retrospection. In, J.S. Turley & K. Lusby (Eds.), Selected papers from the proceedings of the 21st Annual Symposium of the Deseret Language and Linguistics Society (pp. 155-168). Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.

Dornyei, Z. (1995). On the teachability of communication strategies. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 55-85.

Doughty, C. (2001). Cognitive underpinnings of focus on form. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition & second language instruction (pp. 206-257). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Edmondson, W. (1976). Gambits in foreign language teaching. In H. Christ and H. E. Piepho, eds.: Proceedings VIIth Colloquium of the Giessen Foreign Language Teachers’ Association.

Edmondson, W. and House, J. (1981). Let’s Talk and Talk about it. A Pedagogic Interactional Grammar of English. München u.a.: Urban & Schwarzenberg.

Ellis, R. (2001). Investigating form-focused Instruction. Language Learning, 51, 1-46.

Faerch, C., and Kasper, G. (1983a). Plans and strategies in foreign language communication. In C. Faerch and G. Kasper (Eds.), Strategies in interlanguage communication (pp. 20-60). London: Longman.

Faerch, C., and Kasper, G. (1983b). On identifying communication strategies in interlanguage production. In C. Faerch and G. Kasper (Eds.), Strategies in interlanguage communication (pp. 210-238). Harlow, UK: Longman.

Farrokhi, F. (2005). Revisiting the Ambiguity of Recasts. Journal of Faculty of Letters and Humanities, 195, 61-101.

Foster, P. (1998). A classroom perspective on the negotiation of meaning. Applied Linguistics, 19, 1-23.

Gass, S. M. and Selinker, L. (1994). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Jones, L. and Baeyer, C. (1983). Conversation techniques: hesitating, preventing interruptions and interrupting politely, bringing in other people. Functions of American English (pp. 26-27). New York: University of Cambridge.

Keller, E. (1979). Gambits: Conversational Strategy Signals. Journal of Pragmatics, 3.3/4, 219-238.

Lakoff, R. (1973). The logic of politeness; or minding your p’s and q’s. Papers from the 9 th Regional Meeting, Chicago Linguistics Society, pp. 292-305.

Lantolf, J. (1996). Second language theory building: Letting all the flowers bloom! Language Learning 46: 713-49.

Lantolf, J. (2000). Second language learning as a mediated process. Language Teaching, 33, 79-96.

Lenneberg, E. H. (1967). Biological Foundations of Language. New York: Wiley.

Leon, G. F. (2001). Toward a hermeneutical reconstruction of Gal’perin’s theory of learning. The theory and practice of cultural-historical psychology (pp. 260-282). Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press.

Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking From Intention to Articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Pica, T. (1997). Second language teaching and research relationships: A North American view. Language Teaching Research, 1, 48-72.

Schmidt, R. (1994). Deconstructing consciousness in search of useful definitions for applied linguistics. In J. H. Hulstijn and R. Schmidt (Eds.), Consciousness in second language learning [Special issue], AILA Review, 11, 11-26.

Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researchers, 27, 4-13.

Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook & B.Seidlhofer (Eds.), Principle & practice in applied linguistics (pp. 125-44). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Swain, M. (1998). Focus on form through conscious reflection. In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition (pp.64-81). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Tarone, E. (1977). Conscious communication strategies in interlanguage: A progress report. On TESOL, 77 (pp. 194-203). Washington: TESOL.

Tarone, E. (1980). Communication strategies, foreigner talk & repair in interlanguage. Language Learning, 30, 417-431.

VanPatten, B. (1996). Input processing and grammar instruction. New York: Ablex.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

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

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.