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Poster: Kopnicka

Fluency and the role of training in second language German

Simona Kopnicka  

Fluency, that is spoken language that flows without interruptions or pauses, is often neglected in favor of other language components such as reading, writing, listening and speaking that are being considered as more important in the classroom (Rossiter, Derwing, Manimtin & Thomson, 2010). Although fluency falls under speaking skills, it is not taught in L2 classrooms and teachers often confuse it with proficiency, which indicates not only the fluid aspect of the speech but also the correct use of grammar and lexis (Lennon, 1990). Fluency in this context means fluidity and not proficiency i.e., speakers can speak grammatically incorrectly while still producing flowing language. Due to the fact that our intelligence and many other aspects are being judged based on fluency, this issue deserves further attention (Munro, Derwing, Rossiter & Thomson, 2004).   Studies suggest a variety of exercises determined for fluency improvement but only a few of them have been actually tested. The current study examines the effect of classroom-based fluency training on the ability of intermediate-level learners of German to produce more fluent utterances on a Picture Story description task and a monologue task. The results reveal that training did not improve learners’ fluency and that the learners performed better at the monologue than the Picture Story. Speech stream factors such as speech rate, non-lexical pauses, lexical pauses and repetitions were correlated with fluency ratings assigned by native German speakers. The results have implications for fluency teaching in L2 classrooms.