Fluency Summer Intern Project

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Purpose of the Project

The goal of this project is to gain further insight into the development of fluency, accuracy and complexity during fluency training, and the retention and transfer of that development to a delayed posttest. The fluency training is the 4/3/2 task, developed by Nation (1989), in which students prepare a four minute talk and repeat it twice: first in three minutes, then in two minutes.

Research Questions

1. Does the repetition of the second and third telling of the subject's speech, in which new semantic information is not required, result in changes in fluency, morphosyntactic accuracy, and complexity?

2. What types of changes, if any, occur? What causes these changes?

3. Are the changes retained for atleast one week?

Data Collection

Data was collected under two different conditions. The first condition was that students would repeat their speech, developed from a prompt concerning a singular topic, on three occasions. The second condition was that students would be asked to address three different topics. Data consists of recordings from the 4/3/2 task, as well as from pre- and posttests. Articulation rate, morphology, syntax, mean length of fluent runs, and mean length of pauses will all be examined.

Tools Used to Analyze Data

PRAAT is a computer program that allows multiple tier transcriptions to be displayed along with sound wave files. For the purposes of this project, PRAAT was used to transcribe the 4/3/2 recordings. A spectrogram was referenced while listening to the sound files in order to determine appropriate time intervals of pauses and speech utterances.

CHAT is a transcription format in which the transcribed data can be coded. The transcribed data was marked for part of speech, a range of morphological and syntactic errors, and repetitions using CHAT.

  • Example of CHAT format

163: the [*] soccer is [*] very famous: .

%mor: det|the [*] n|soccer v|be&3S^v:aux|be&3S [*] adv:int|very adj|famous .

%pos: det|the [*] n|soccer v|be&3S [*] adv:int|very adj|famous .


163: game all [/] all over the world .

%mor: v|game^n|game qn|all prep|over^adv:loc|over det|the n|world .

%pos: n|game qn|all adv:loc|over det|the n|world .

The %mor tier codes morphemic segments by type and part of speech.  If a word could 
possibly function as more than one part of speech, options are separated by a ^ symbol.
The %pos tier codes morphemic segments by type and part of speech as well.  However, 
all options have been eliminated besides the correct type and part of speech for each word.
CLAN performs automatic analyses of the transcriptions. CLAN processed the CHAT files and produced the probable part of speech for each word in the transcript. Where there was still uncertainty concerning the part of speech, options were given and a choice was made by the coder. An error coding file developed by the principal investigator, Nel de Jong, was referenced for lines of the transcript containing error. From this file, CLAN produced a hierarchy of the part of speech codes in order to determine which form of the part of speech should have been used versus the form used in error by the particpant. CLAN can also perform other processes aside from morphosyntactic analysis. Such processes include the generation of a word frequency list and a lexicon of all words used in the transcript.

Error Coding

Errors which were coded include:

  • Morphological errors such as:
    • inflection
    • noun (number)
    • pronoun (number, gender, loss, addition, substitution)
    • determiner (article substitution, absence, addition)
    • verb (tense, addition, loss, substitution, subject-verb agreement)
    • relative pronoun (loss, addition, substitution)
    • conjunction (loss, addition, substitution)
  • Repetitions were marked by: [/] which represents an exact repetition, [//] which represents retracing with correction, and [1] which represents retracing with reformulation.
  • Syntactical errors will eventually be addressed, but not at this moment.

For more information

Fostering fluency in second language learning