Exploring Oral L2 Fluency Development during a Three-Month Stay Abroad through a Dialogic Task

Authored by: Juan-Garau Maria

The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138192393
eBook ISBN: 9781315639970
Adobe ISBN:


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Research on language learning in study abroad (SA) settings has revealed that not all language areas benefit equally from this learning context (Kinginger, 2009). There seems to be general agreement, however, that oral fluency stands out as the clear winner abroad (see, e.g., Freed, 1995) in comparison with the complexity and accuracy domains. As Housen, Kuiken, and Vedder (2012) remark, ‘fluency’ is a multidimensional construct that can be defined in different ways. In the broad sense of the term, it has often been equated to a learner’s overall language proficiency, indicating smooth and native-like second language (L2) performance. Many L2 researchers, nonetheless, use this term more narrowly to refer to the ease and fluidity of speech (e.g., Lennon, 2000; Segalowitz, 2010). According to Segalowitz (2010, 2016), L2 speakers’ fluency levels can be examined through three interrelated aspects, one of which is ‘L2 utterance fluency’ 1 (i.e., the measurable temporal features of speech, such as speed, pausing, and hesitation). This construct has been successfully applied to measure L2 fluency development in SA settings and hence will be used in the present study. Following Tavakoli and Skehan (2005), three subdimensions of L2 utterance fluency can be differentiated:

a) speed fluency, i.e. speed with which speech is performed, b) breakdown fluency, the pauses and silences that break down the flow of speech, and c) repair fluency, hesitations, repetitions and reformulations that are used to repair speech during the production process.

(Tavakoli, 2016, p. 138)

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