Fluency Summer Intern Project 2009
[This page is under construction]
Background and significance
The goal of this study is to investigate whether patterns evidencing the use of proceduralized knowledge by English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers are perceived by native-speaker listeners.
The four fluency measures used in this study, and the larger project, are:
- Mean length of pauses (in seconds)
- Phonation/time ratio: The percentage of time spent speaking as a proportion of the total time taken to produce the speech sample.
- This measure is related to the number of pauses in a speech: if the mean length of pauses is stable but the number of pauses decreases, phonation/time ratio increases.
- Mean length of fluent runs: The mean number of syllables produced between pauses.
- Articulation rate (in syllables per minute): The total number of syllables produced divided by the amount of time taken to produce them, excluding pause time.
- This measure is slightly different from speech rate, which includes pause time.
As explained below, the combination of these measures can give an indication of the proceduralization of knowledge.
- Can native-speaker listeners perceive the use of proceduralized knowledge by ESL speakers, as evidenced by patterns in the fluency measures of mean length of fluent runs, mean length of pauses, and phonation/time ratio?
Four sets of one-minute excerpts from a large pool of existing audio recordings will be selected.
- 1. Baseline: All fluency measures are average.
- 2. Proceduralization: High mean length of fluent runs, other measures average
- 3. No proceduralization: Low mean length of fluent runs, other measures average
- 4. Trade-off: High mean length of fluent runs, but high mean length of pauses and low phonation/time ratio
The articulation rate of all excerpts will be kept constant. The first language of all speakers is Chinese
- Level of proceduralization (baseline, proceduralization, no proceduralization, trade-off)
- a. Native speaker ratings, 7-point scale:
- b. Native speaker comments about factors influencing ratings
- c. Native speakers' familiarity with the first language of the ESL speakers (Chinese)
- Compared to the baseline, fluency ratings are higher for the "proceduralization" excerpts
- Compared to the baseline, fluency ratings are lower for the "no proceduralization" excerpts
- Compared to the baseline, fluency ratings are similar for the "trade-off" excerpts
The ratings of comprehensibility and accentedness may vary across speakers, but should be independent of fluency ratings.
The study will be run in the second week of July. The findings will be described here.
Perceived fluency can be considered the perception by the listener of the ease of production by the speaker.
Ease of production is related to the use of proceduralized knowledge, which requires less attentional resources than declarative knowledge. Towell, Hawkins, and Bazergui (1996) argue that three fluency measures in combination can be used as indicators of proceduralization: mean length of fluent runs, mean length of pauses, and phonation/time ratio. If the mean length of fluent runs increases while the mean pause length and phonation/time ratio are stable, more silent planning time was not needed, which indicates that encoding and sentence building have been proceduralized.
Note: Articulation rate is a measure of the speed of articulatory processes, and is thus not strongly related to proceduralization of lexical and syntactic knowledge.
The data preparation and analysis of this part of the project has been performed by Maya Randolph from ... (summer intern in June-July 2009), under supervision of Mary Lou Vercellotti and Dr. Laura Halderman from the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Nel de Jong from Queens College of CUNY.