Fluency development through repetition: 4/3/2 versus 3/3/3

Frank Boers, Julie Deconinck

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished abstract


One of the classroom activities that is often recommended to foster fluency development (e.g., Nation & Newton, 2009; Wood, 2010) is the 4/3/2 activity. In this activity, proposed by Maurice (1983), a learner talks about a familiar topic for four minutes, then repeats the talk for another listener in 3 minutes, and finally tries to convey the same content to yet another interlocutor in just two minutes. Changing the audience is intended to ensure that the communication stays genuine, and it reduces the speaker's urge to change the content of her speech. The shrinking time window for the repeated narratives is intended to push the learner's pace of delivery and efficacy of the wording of her narrative.
Nation (1989) and Arevart and Nation (1991) report evidence that learners' speech indeed becomes more fluent over the 4/3/2 sequence. Fluency was gauged by number of words produced per minute and by number of hesitations. De Jong and Perfetti (2011) - using a wider range of measures - also demonstrate the suitability of the activity for fluency training. None of these studies, however, separate the effect of the shrinking time window from that of the task repetition as such, because no comparison treatment was included in which the learners reiterated their narratives without experiencing increasing time pressure. It is the question whether this increasing time pressure is vital to obtain fluency gains that we address in a new study.
EFL learners (N 40) were given the task to talk about a familiar topic three times according to the 4/3/2 format and about another familiar topic three times without reduction of allocated time (but with the same total time-on-task) - a 3/3/3 format. The topics and the order of the two conditions were counterbalanced.
We track the changes across the repeated narratives with regard to fluency and dimensions which received little attention in the aforementioned studies (accuracy, lexis, syntax, and content). Positive effects of task repetition were attested under both conditions, but, overall, these effects were greater when the allocated time for the repeated narratives stayed the same.

Arevart, S., & Nation, I. S. P. (1991). Fluency improvement in a second language. RELC Journal, 22, 84?94.
Maurice, K. (1983). The fluency workshop. TESOL Newsletter, 17(4), 29.
Nation, I. S. P. (1989). Improving speaking fluency. System, 17, 377?384.
Nation, I. S. P., & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. New York: Routledge.
De Jong, N., & Perfetti, C. A. (2011). Fluency training in the ESL classroom: An experimental study of fluency development and proceduralization. Language Learning, 61, 533?568.
Wood, D. (2010). Formulaic language and second language speech fluency: Background, evidence and classroom applications. New York, NY: Continuum.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 31 aug 2013
EvenementEuroSLA 2013 Conference - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duur: 31 aug 201331 aug 2013
Congresnummer: 2013


ConferenceEuroSLA 2013 Conference


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