Norming picture story prompts for second language production research: Fluency, linguistic items, and speakers’ perception

  • C.A.M. de Jong (Speaker)
  • M.L. Vercellotti (Speaker)

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


Many studies on second language oral production have used picture story prompts to elicit spoken language data with some control over content and for comparability across speakers. However, clearer guidelines are necessary for the selection of such prompts. Rossiter et al. (2009) provided a list of evaluation criteria for picture prompts. Foster and Tavakoli (2009) and Tavakoli and Foster (2008) investigated the speech elicited by stories that differed in narrative structure and storyline complexity. Nevertheless, due to expected and unexpected task effects, more research is needed on the amount and type of L2 speech that is elicited by specific prompts. The present study examined the linguistic and fluency aspects of the language elicited by a set of carefully selected picture prompts.
Five picture stories with similar narrative structure and storyline complexity were normed for high-intermediate ESL speakers with various language backgrounds (n=25; age M = 25.8 years) in terms of:
• amount of speech elicited
• several fluency measures
• vocabulary and grammar usage
• speakers’ perception of clarity, enjoyment, and plausiblity
Four of the five prompts consistently elicited a minimum of three minutes of speech. All five had similar global complexity scores but differed on lexical diversity. Interestingly, the prompts also differed in fluency (phonation/time ratio, mean pause length), but the highest and lowest lexical diversity (D) was found in prompts that elicited average fluency. Two prompts received lower speaker ratings across the board; one also elicited less speech and lower fluency, the other elicited low lexical diversity. Additional analyses will be presented.
The norms obtained in this study can be used to select the picture prompts that fit specific research needs, like fluent speech or specific vocabulary or grammatical structures. Further research is needed to norm the prompts with native speakers, and with different L2 populations and proficiencies.
Period29 Mar 2011
Event titleAAAL Conference
Event typeConference