Short and longer term effects of time pressure on fluency in second language learners

C.A.M. de Jong (Speaker)

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


The effect of task conditions on oral fluency has been studied extensively (Ellis, 2009; Skehan, 2009), but few studies have examined their longer-term effects on second language development. The present study investigates the effect of time pressure in fluency-building activities that also involve immediate task repetition (cf. De Jong & Perfetti, 2011).
Time pressure has been shown to have mixed short-term effects on fluency. Yuan and Ellis (2003) argued that time pressure limits online planning opportunities and monitoring, and therefore predicted increased fluency under time pressure. Nevertheless, they found no such effect. In contrast, Ahmadian & Tavakoli (2011) found a negative effect of time pressure: task repetition without time pressure (careful online planning) resulted in higher fluency than time pressure or no task repetition. Finally, De Jong (2012) found that increasing time pressure combined with immediate task repetition increased oral fluency. She argued that under time pressure speakers rely on readily available resources, including high-frequency vocabulary and familiar syntactic constructions.
The present study used the same methodology of De Jong (2012), but also examined the longer-term effect of training. Twenty-nine high-intermediate learners of L2 English completed three fluency-building activities. Thirteen participants repeated a picture-story prompted narrative under increasing time pressure, while the remaining 16 participants repeated their narratives under constant time. Two posttests were administered one and three weeks after the last training session. Fluency was measured with temporal measures (pause length, length of fluent runs), hesitations (repeated words), and articulation rate (in syllables). Interestingly, no longer-term effect of training under increasing time pressure was found on oral fluency on the two posttests. It seems, therefore, that short-term effects of task conditions such as time pressure do not necessarily lead to similar longer-term effects. This may be due to the reliance on familiar vocabulary and syntactic constructions during training.
Period13 Nov 2012
Event titleWorkshop Fluent Speech: Combining Cognitive and Educational Approaches
Event typeWorkshop