Hostname: page-component-76fb5796d-dfsvx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-25T09:12:44.341Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Second language fluency: Speaking style or proficiency? Correcting measures of second language fluency for first language behavior

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2013

Utrecht University
University of Amsterdam
University of Amsterdam
University of Amsterdam
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Nivja de Jong, Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, Utrecht University, Trans 10, Utrecht 3512 JK, The Netherlands. E-mail:


In second language (L2) research and testing, measures of oral fluency are used as diagnostics for proficiency. However, fluency is also determined by personality or speaking style, raising the question to what extent L2 fluency measures are valid indicators of L2 proficiency. In this study, we obtained a measure of L2 (Dutch) proficiency (vocabulary knowledge), L2 fluency measures, and fluency measures that were corrected for first language behavior from the same group of Turkish and English native speakers (N = 51). For most measures of fluency, except for silent pause duration, both the corrected and the uncorrected measures significantly predicted L2 proficiency. For syllable duration, the corrected measure was a stronger predictor of L2 proficiency than was the uncorrected measure. We conclude that for L2 research purposes, as well as for some types of L2 testing, it is useful to obtain corrected measures of syllable duration to measure L2-specific fluency.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Beglar, D., & Hunt, H. (1999). Revising and validating the 2000 word level and university word level vocabulary tests. Language Testing, 16, 131162.Google Scholar
Chambers, F. (1997). What do we mean by fluency? System, 25, 535544.Google Scholar
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
De Bot, K. (1992). A bilingual production model: Levelt's speaking model adapted. Applied Linguistics, 13, 124.Google Scholar
De Jong, N. H., Steinel, M. P., Florijn, A., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2012a). Facets of speaking proficiency. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34, 534.Google Scholar
De Jong, N. H., Steinel, M. P., Florijn, A., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2012b). Linguistic skills and speaking fluency in a second language. Applied Psycholinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0142716412000069Google Scholar
Dell, G. S. (1986). A spreading-activation theory of retrieval in sentence production. Psychological Review, 93, 283321.Google Scholar
Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Thomson, R. I., & Rossiter, M. J. (2009). The relationship between L1 fluency and L2 fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31, 533557.Google Scholar
Fillmore, C. J. (1979). On fluency. In Fillmore, C. J., Kempler, D., & Wang, W. S. Y. (Eds.), Individual differences in language ability and language behaviour (pp. 85102). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Foster, P., Tonkyn, A., & Wigglesworth, G. (2001). Measuring spoken language: A unit for all reasons. Applied Linguistics, 21, 354375.Google Scholar
Freed, B. F. (1995). Do students who study abroad become fluent? In Freed, B. F. (Ed.), Second language acquisition in a study abroad context (pp. 123148). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Goldman-Eisler, F. (1968). Psycholinguistics: Experiments in spontaneous speech. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Housen, A., & Kuiken, F. (2009). Complexity, accuracy and fluency in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 30, 461473.Google Scholar
Howell, P., & Au-Yeung, J. (2002). The EXPLAN theory of fluency control applied to the diagnosis of stuttering. In Fava, E. (Ed.), Current issues in linguistic theory series: Pathology and therapy of speech disorders (pp. 7594). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Hulstijn, J. H., Schoonen, R., De Jong, N. H., Steinel, M. P., & Florijn, A. (2012). Linguistic competences of learners of Dutch as a second language at the B1 and B2 levels of speaking proficiency of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Language Testing, 29, 202220.Google Scholar
Kabak, B., & Vogel, I. (2001). The phonological word and stress assignment in Turkish. Phonology, 18, 315360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kormos, J. (2006). Speech production and second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Laufer, B., & Nation, P. (1999). A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language Testing, 16, 3351.Google Scholar
Lennon, P. (1990). Investigating fluency in EFL: A quantitative approach. Language Learning, 3, 387417.Google Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M. (1983). Monitoring and self-repair in speech. Cognition, 14, 41104.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (1999). A theory of lexical access in speech production. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 137.Google Scholar
Lewis, G. (2001). Turkish grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
MacWhinney, B. (2000). The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Ramsay, R. W. (1968). Speech patterns and personality. Language and Speech, 11, 5463.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Riazantseva, A. (2001). Second language proficiency and pausing: A study of Russian speakers of English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 497526.Google Scholar
Riggenbach, H. (1991). Toward an understanding of fluency: A microanalysis of nonnative speaker conversations. Discourse Processes, 14, 423441.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, N. (2010). Cognitive bases of second language fluency. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Shriberg, E. E. (1994). Preliminaries to a theory of speech disfluencies. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
Skehan, P. (2003). Task-based instruction. Language Teaching, 36, 114.Google Scholar
Tavakoli, P., & Skehan, P. (2005). Strategic planning, task structure, and performance testing. In Ellis, R. (Ed.), Planning and task performance in a second language (pp. 239276). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Towell, R. (2002). Relative degrees of fluency: A comparative case study of advanced learners of French. IRAL—International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 40, 117150.Google Scholar
Zareva, A., Schwanenflugel, P., & Nikolova, Y. (2005). Relationship between lexical competence and language proficiency. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 567595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar