The influence of pre-task planning on speed and breakdown fluency
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of pre-task planning on L2 fluency performance by measuring the temporal variables. Performing a picture description task, two groups of thirty-seven students were given 10 minutes of planning time and no planning time before the performance, respectively. The temporal fluency variables are extracted by means of the PRAAT speech analysis program in order to be automatically measured for evaluation purposes. Fluency is operationalized as speed fluency (i.e. speech rate and articulation rate) and breakdown fluency (i.e. average pause duration and number of pauses). The results indicate that no significant difference is found when comparing the non-planning and planning condition for each temporal variable. Presumably, the chosen task type containing highly frequent lexemes does not seem to impose increased conscious attention on the part of the more proficient speakers, and thus the formulation and articulation can, to a high degree, run in parallel. Based on the observed results, a modified task design is proposed, i.e. guided pre-task planning directed to attend to less frequent formulae as vocabulary or lexical items for everyday contexts, having a clear potential as a pedagogic device, aiming at activating relatively underused vocabulary and promoting ultimate fluency in the temporal sense.
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