Exploring the Influence of Individual Speaking Style, Cross-Linguistic Transfer of Language-Specific Fluency Patterns, and Proficiency on Second Language Oral Fluency

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This study explores the extent to which second language (L2) utterance fluency reflects individual speaking style and the transfer of language-specific fluency patterns associated with the learner’s first language (L1) to the L2 and L2 proficiency. Chinese learners of English (N = 61) completed a speaking task in English twice six months apart. To assess the influence of individual speaking style, a parallel version was also completed in Mandarin. To check for cross-language contiguity in any relationships observed between L1 and L2 fluency, baseline data were collected from a sample of 13 native speakers of English. To control for proficiency, eight native speakers of English rated the communicative adequacy of the learners’ productions. Chinese learners of English were observed to speak more slowly but not pause as long as native speakers of English at the start of the study in their L1, Mandarin, as well as their L2. Moderate to strong correlations were also observed between L1 and L2 fluency for these learners, but they weakened over time as learners’ fluency profiles became more nativelike, a change which was significant for articulation rate and mean length of run, but not mean pause duration. Together these results suggest that some dimensions of L2 utterance fluency may reflect the transfer of language-specific fluency patterns or another dimension of proficiency, such as processing efficiency, as well as individual style of speaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-47
JournalJournal of the European Second Language Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2024


  • Speaking
  • Fluency
  • Cross-linguistic transfer

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