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Pause behavior within reformulations and the proficiency level of second language learners of English

  • Simon A. Williams (a1) and Malgorzata Korko (a2)


This research reports on a quantitative analysis of the combination of two types of disfluency, reformulations and pauses, in the speech of lower intermediate and advanced speakers of English as a second language (L2). The present study distinguishes between corrections and false starts within the category of reformulations as well as between silent and filled pauses. It focuses on the extent to which pause behavior within reformulations varies according to the stage of L2 development and the type of reformulation used. An analysis was made of 56 L2 speakers’ 2-min monologues. The results showed that lower intermediate and advanced speakers differed on the frequency of silent pauses inserted in corrections but not on their frequency in false starts. This suggests that false starts depend less on proficiency level, and may reflect temporary problems with conceptual encoding or extralinguistic factors that contribute to the efficacy of L2 production rather than difficulties with linguistic processing per se. The frequency of silent pauses rather than silent pause duration or the frequency and duration of filled pauses appeared to be the only marker to differentiate between false starts and corrections across the two proficiency groups.


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