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The chapter’s focus is on the effect of task design and implementation conditions on fluency, including task design, implementation conditions and the role of interlocutors. The intention is to highlight the value of adapting research and teaching to use tasks for promoting fluency in real-world communication, taking account of pragmatic demands and cultural norms. We suggest ways in which tasks can be better used to investigate fluency, not only from an information processing perspective, but through an interactional lens, exploring speakers’ communicative strategies in fulfilling listeners’ expectations and communicative needs.
The chapter focuses on psycholinguistic perspectives of temporal evaluations of fluency, based on skill development, usually comparing L2 fluency to smooth, automatic processes used by native speakers in conceptualising, formulating and articulating speech. We aruge this deficit model of L2 speech is limited, and needs to move to a more dynamic bilingual contextualised view of fluency. We evaluate Segalowitz’s multicomponent model of cognitive fluency, utterance fluency and perceptions of fluency, and current analyses of utterance fluency, in terms of speech rate, breakdown and disfluency, noting how speed, silence and repair may be rated as both negative and positive aspects of fluency. We emphasise the interdependence of individual speech processes across both L1 and L2, the relationship between fluency and different linguistic domains (particularly vocabulary and the role of formulaic sequences or multiword expressions). The chapter also discusses individual differences and psycho-social factors, such as working memory, personality traits, willingness to engage in interaction or not. Also noted are more interactional context-based views of fluency, fluency strategies and perceptions of fluency.
To highlight the significant implications of L2 fluency research for language teaching, this chapter is dedicated to four aspects of L2 teaching practice: L2 policy documents, L2 textbooks, classroom practice and teacher cognition. This chapter aims to provide an analysis of how fluency is represented in each of these four aspects, and in what ways fluency research can help practitioners in these areas with everyday practices. After presenting a background to the role of fluency in L2 pedagogy, examples of L2 policy documents, e.g. the UK curriculum for teaching Modern Foreign Languages will be evaluated. We then provide a summary of research examining fluency in L2 textbooks, and discuss teaching activities that are reported as central to promoting fluency in the L2 classroom. Teacher understanding of fluency and the impact it has on promoting fluency in the language classroom will also be discussed.
The chapter summarises the main arguments and evidence throughout the volume, presenting the case for a broad multidisciplinary perspective on defining, understanding and researching L2 fluency by considering fluency as a dynamic variable in language performance that interacts with cognitive factors as well as with external factors. Main points from research and practice are synthesised evaluating current insights into fluency across cognitive, interactional, pedagogic and assessment domains. We finish by identifying remaining gaps in our understanding of how fluency develops, and how combining research and practice is needed to help understand issues of real-life second language communication.
This chapter’s main focus is on fluency research ‘in the wild’, particularly looking at the challenges of developing fluency during immersion in the target language setting, e.g. during Study Abroad. The chapter includes the need for research and practice to move away from standard monolingual native speaker norms, towards use of L2 or multilingual raters as reference norms for evaluating fluency development. We refer to cross-linguistic work on fluency in languages other than English, to see how learners’ and teachers’ expectations can be more realistically framed to fit social contexts and task demands. We include evidence from learner corpora across a variety of languages, which could help develop more robust cross-linguistic theories, methods and evidence of fluency development from a wider multilingual interactional perspective. The final section explores these themes in the context of fluency development through residence abroad, even over short periods such as Study Abroad; evidence is presented from a recent case study of learners of Mandarin Chinese within a more nuanced view of specific task constraints, to highlight the varied nature of fluency development.
This chapter provides a synthesis of the complex range of current practices in measuring fluency, from temporal features of speech such as speech rate and frequency of pauses, to prosodic features of speech such as intonation and stress patterns, and sociolinguistic features of turn taking and degree of dominance in a conversation, and highlights the complexities involved in measuring L2 fluency. After providing a historical perspective to the measurement of fluency, we will present a summary of the most frequently used fluency features in SLA studies, and conclude by offering a list of measures that have been suggested as more reliable representatives of utterance fluency.
The chapter provides the foundation for the whole book, discussing why fluency is an increasingly expanding area of research and an increasingly important subject for professionals in applied linguistics. We discuss current definitions and models of fluency, emerging from the growing body of second language fluency research. We present a reconceptualised multicomponent view of fluency taking more account of social interactional needs and real-world task demands, and highlight practical implications for pedagogy, assessment and language use. The chapter discusses two disconnects, firstly between different disciplines that should, in principle, be interested in and inform speech fluency research; secondly between research in L2 fluency and practice in applied linguistics, specifically in language teaching and language testing, and how these different domains emphasise fluency differently. We also identify limitations in current empirical investigation, so far dominated by research in English and European languages, and suggest that new research in non-European languages is needed to bring fresh insights into conceptualising, teaching and assessing fluency. We also argue that research into bilingual models of language can help us move to more meaningful ways of using bilingual norms as the basis for fluency development, rather than retaining a native-speaker goal for research and practice.
Research examining how language testing organizations measure fluency, design their fluency rating scales and develop their fluency descriptors is limited; the complexities involved in human rating of fluency make it difficult to assess fluency in any kind of multidimensional way. This chapter highlights the importance of assessing fluency objectively, accurately and consistently, in order to increase validity; also, we argue that developing a research-evidenced approach to assessing fluency in L2 tests of speaking is needed, particularly in taking a more dynamic, task-based approach into consideration. After examining the existing fluency descriptors and rating scales in some international tests of speaking, the chapter reports recent research investigating fluency across different levels of proficiency. It will also discuss in what ways a broader theoretical perspective to assessment of fluency, e.g. using conversation analysis techniques, should be considered when validating assessment of fluency. Effects of raters, rating scales and rating descriptors on judgements of fluency will also be discussed, and merits and limitations of automated assessment of fluency will be evaluated, relating the implications of important developments for practice in language testing and for future research.
Second language (L2) fluency is an exciting and fast-moving field of research, with clear practical applications in language teaching. This book provides a lively overview of the current advances in the field of L2 fluency, and connects the theory to practice, presenting a hands-on approach to using fluency research across a range of different language-related professions. The authors introduce an innovative multidisciplinary perspective, which brings together research into cognitive and social factors, to understand fluency as a dynamic variable in language performance, connecting learner-internal factors such as speech processing and automaticity, to external factors such as task demands, language testing, and pragmatic interactional demands in communication. Bringing a much-needed multidisciplinary and novel approach to understanding the complex nature of L2 speech fluency, this book provides researchers, students and language professionals with both the theoretical insights and practical tools required to understand and research how fluency in a second language develops.