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Self-correction and Fluency in ESL Speaking Development. Nel de Jong, Dawn E. McCormick, M. Christine O’Neill, Claire Bradin Siskin University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center. April 24, 2007. Overview. Speaking classes : background

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Self-correction and Fluency in ESL Speaking Development

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self correction and fluency in esl speaking development

Self-correction and Fluency in ESL Speaking Development

Nel de Jong, Dawn E. McCormick,

M. Christine O’Neill, Claire Bradin Siskin

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center

April 24, 2007

  • Speaking classes: background
  • Self-Correction: Recorded Speaking Activity (RSA)
    • Software
    • Study
  • Fluency: 4/3/2 task
    • Software
    • Study
  • Conclusions: CALL and L2 speaking development
general speaking goals
General Speaking Goals
  • Use English to engage in discussions in personal, professional, and academic contexts
  • Use English to conduct transactions in personal, professional, and academic contexts
  • Use English to make presentations in professional and academic contexts
  • Develop self-correction skills and language learning strategies
rsa software procedures
RSA Software: Procedures
  • Students record
  • Students transcribe
  • Students take notes on errors
  • Students speak corrections

(RSA #1 and #2),

or rerecord sample (RSA #3)

  • Teacher provides feedback
  • Students take notes on teacher feedback
rsa role in speaking curriculum
RSA: Role in Speaking Curriculum
  • Increase students’ involvement in the learning process
  • Increase students’ awareness of individual errors
  • Increase students’ ability to monitor and self-correct spoken language
  • Provide a starting point from which students could devise language learning strategies to increase language accuracyand appropriateness of language use
  • Provide additional assessment data for the teacher
rsa study research questions
RSA Study: Research Questions
  • What errors are students able to identifywithin given proficiency levels (high-beginning, low-intermediate, high-intermediate, advanced)? across levels?
  • Of the errors identified by students, what errors are they able to self-correct within given proficiency levels (high-beginning, low-intermediate, high-intermediate, advanced)? across levels?
  • Can students use a self-correction learning event to immediately improve spoken production accuracy?
data example level 4
on halloween, i hung out with my friend i gave candy for children. so i saw lots of weird charecter like which and ghost. i think people dressed on costume. i think people only dressde up as a weird chareter but some people dressed up on cute charecter like bunny girls and i saw a couple wearing a nurse and a doctor.

like which and ghost>like a which and a ghost

i think people dressed on costum>people drssed on a costum on halloween

dressed up on cute> dressed up on a cute charecter.

wearing a nurse> dressed up as a nurse

Data Example Level 4
preliminary observations
Preliminary Observations
  • All levels able to identify and self-correct to some degree
  • Students able to identify and correct errors in the areas of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary
rsa and sla connections
RSA and SLA Connections
  • The RSA acts as a tool to promote the metalinguistic (reflective) function of output as described by Swain (2005) through ‘collaboration with self’
  • The transcription component of the RSA is a tool to facilitate noticing in output (Lynch, 2001; 2005)
  • RSAs provide learners with the “time and opportunity for self-initiated, self-completed repair of their messages” (Shehadeh, 2001, p. 451)
what is oral fluency
What is oral fluency?
  • The rapid, smooth, accurate, lucid, and efficient translation of thought or communicative intention into language under the temporal constraints of on-line processing (Lennon, 2000)
  • Fluency in broad vs. narrow sense
  • Related to accuracy and complexity
Many studies on immersion and study abroad

but what can we do in the classroom?

4 3 2 software procedures
4/3/2 Software: Procedures
  • Talk about a topic for 4 minutes
  • Retell in 3 minutes
  • Retell in 2 minutes
  • Increases fluency, accuracy and complexity.
  • Students cannot repeat verbatim, but can benefit from recently having generated semantic content, and having selected vocabulary and syntactic constructions (Maurice, 1983; Nation, 1989)

Computerized version: individual, no pair work

4 3 2 study research questions
4/3/2 Study: Research Questions
  • Does repetition of a short speech increase fluency?
      • Repetition (1 topic) vs. No Repetition (3 topics)
  • If so:
    • Which components of fluency are affected?
      • Proceduralization
      • Speed (articulation rate)
    • Is it a long-term effect?
fluency and proceduralization
Fluency and Proceduralization
  • Proceduralization leads to higher fluency, because students can more easily construct longer and more complex sentences(Towell, Hawkins & Bazergui, 1996):
    • Mean Length of Fluent Run: increase
    • Mean Length of Pause: stable or decrease
    • Phonation/Time Ratio: stable or increase
  • Articulation rate: number of syllables per minute
  • Repetition vs. No Repetition condition
  • Three training sessions of 4/3/2 technique
  • Tests: RSAs about different topics
    • Pretest: 3-4 days before training
    • Immediate posttest: week after training
    • Delayed posttest: 3.5 weeks after training
participants 4 3 2 study
Participants 4/3/2 study
  • Level 4: advanced intermediate
  • Randomly assigned
  • 19 students
  • 19-37 yrs (mean 25 yrs)
  • L1s: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, other
preliminary results
Preliminary Results


Pause = filled or unfilled; uh and um counted as pause

preliminary results26
Preliminary Results


Pause = filled or unfilled; uh and um counted as pause

  • Some evidence for proceduralization
  • Markers of fluency in Repetition condition:
    • shorter pauses
    • more speech (verbosity)
    • with stable length of fluent runs
  • No Repetition condition catches up on delayed posttest
open questions
Open questions
  • How does 4/3/2 affect accuracy and complexity?
  • What is being proceduralized?
  • What is the role of specific types of language knowledge and processing mechanisms in fluency?
call contribution to l2 speaking development
CALL contribution toL2 speaking development
  • For students:
    • individual feedback
    • time to reflect on performance
    • more speaking time per student
    • improvement in self-correction and fluency
  • For teachers: streamlining the process of collecting speech samples and giving feedback
call contribution to l2 speaking research
CALL contribution toL2 speaking research
  • In vivo experimentation: Controlled data collection in real classrooms
    • External validity
    • Long-term retention
    • Diverse participants
    • Data loss
    • Need for fit with speaking curricula of language institute, e.g., course objectives, language lab availability
  • Streamlined data collection
many thanks to
Many thanks to:
  • Prof. A. Juffs
  • Prof. C.A. Perfetti
  • The students and teachers at the ELI
  • Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center

Please direct questions to Nel de Jong ( or

Dawn E. McCormick (

This work was supported in part by the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, which is funded by the National Science Foundation award number SBE-0354420.


Lynch, T. (2001), Seeing what they meant: Transcribing as a route to noticing. ELT Journal, 55 (2), 124-132.

Lynch, T. (2005). Self-transcribing and noticing in EAP speaking classes. Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 14, 54-67.

Lennon, P. (2000). Investigating Fluency in EFL: A Quantitative Approach. Language Learning, 40 (3), 387-417.

Maurice, K. (1983). The fluency workshop. TESOL Newsletter, 17, 429.

Nation, P. (1989). Improving speaking fluency. System, 17(3), 377-384.

Shehadeh, A. (2001). Self- and other-initiated modified output during task-based interaction. TESOL Quarterly, 35 (3), 433-457.

Swain, M. (2005). The output hypothesis: Theory and research. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook on research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 471-484). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Towell, R., Hawkins, R., & Bazergui, N. (1996). The development of fluency in advanced learners of French. Applied Linguistics, 17(1), 84-119.

rsa accuracy and self correction
RSA: Accuracy andSelf-correction
  • Accuracy
    • Grammar - target structures from speaking class as well as level-appropriate structures
    • Pronunciation - target segmentals and suprasegmentals as well as errors that interfere with interlocutor comprehension
    • Vocabulary - target words and level-appropriate words; word choice and word form
  • Self-correction - identification and correction of incorrect forms
rsa topics fall 2006
RSA Topics Fall 2006
  • Pretest: How do you feel about pets?
  • Posttest: Talk about a person who was very important to you in the past.
  • Delayed posttest: What is the biggest problem your country is facing today?
current and future research
Current and Future Research
  • Do higher-proficiency students benefit more or less from the 4/3/2 training than lower-proficiency students?
  • Does a pretraining of formulaic sequenceshelp students produce more fluent speech during and after the 4/3/2 training? (Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992)
formulaic sequences
Formulaic Sequences
  • The point is that …
  • The first thing is that …
  • Take something like …
  • That’s not all. …
  • It seems to me that …

Nattinger & DeCarrico (1992)