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A qualitative analysis of perceptions of fluency in second language French

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/06/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Issue number2
Volume54
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)151-169
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In the field of second language (L2) fluency, there is a common adherence to quantitative methods to examine characteristics and features of speech. This study extends the field by reporting on an investigation that analyzed native-speaker listeners’ perceptions of L2 fluency in French from a qualitative perspective. Three untrained judges rated students’ performance on speech tasks varying in cognitive demand and provided justifications for their perceptions of fluency. The goal of the research was to examine the factors that affect raters’ evaluations of fluency in response to three oral performances from 40 adult learners of French of varying proficiency. Qualitative analysis revealed that the main speech features that influenced native listeners’ perceptions of L2 fluency were speed, rhythm, pause phenomena, self-correction and efficiency/effortlessness in word choice, but also in target-like rhythm and prosody. The results of using such qualitative methodology highlights the important role that rhythm plays in fluency judgements in syllable-timed languages such as French, a factor which has not always been given much prominence in previous L2 fluency quantitative research.