Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-vjhkx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-05T02:02:46.641Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2009

Tracey M. Derwing*
University of Alberta
Murray J. Munro
Simon Fraser University
Ronald I. Thomson
Brock University
Marian J. Rossiter
University of Alberta
*Address correspondence to: Tracey M. Derwing, Department of Educational Psychology, 6-102 Education North, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2G5, Canada; e-mail:


A fundamental question in the study of second language (L2) fluency is the extent to which temporal characteristics of speakers’ first language (L1) productions predict the same characteristics in the L2. A close relationship between a speaker’s L1 and L2 temporal characteristics would suggest that fluency is governed by an underlying trait. This longitudinal investigation compared L1 and L2 English fluency at three times over 2 years in Russian- and Ukrainian- (which we will refer to here as Slavic) and Mandarin-speaking adult immigrants to Canada. Fluency ratings of narratives by trained judges indicated a relationship between the L1 and the L2 in the initial stages of L2 exposure, although this relationship was found to be stronger in the Slavic than in the Mandarin learners. Pauses per second, speech rate, and pruned syllables per second were all related to the listeners’ judgments in both languages, although vowel durations were not. Between-group differences may reflect differential exposure to spoken English and a closer relationship between Slavic languages and English than between Mandarin and English. Suggestions for pedagogical interventions and further research are also proposed.

Research Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Chambers, F. (1997). What do we mean by fluency? System, 25, 535544.Google Scholar
Collentine, J., & Freed, B. F. (2004). Learning context and its effects on second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 153171.Google Scholar
de Bot, K. (1992). A bilingual production model: Levelt’s ‘speaking’ model adapted. Applied Linguistics, 13, 124.Google Scholar
Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I. (2008). A longitudinal study of ESL learners’ fluency and comprehensibility development. Applied Linguistics, 29, 359380.Google Scholar
Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I. (2004). L2 fluency: Judgments on different tasks. Language Learning, 54, 655679.Google Scholar
Derwing, T. M., Thomson, R. I., & Munro, M. J. (2006). English pronunciation and fluency development in Mandarin and Slavic speakers. System, 34, 183193.Google Scholar
Dewaele, J.-M. (1998). Speech rate variation in two oral styles of advanced French interlanguage. In Regan, V. (Ed.), Contemporary approaches to second language acquisition in social context (pp. 113123). Dublin, Ireland: University College Academic Press.Google Scholar
Dewaele, J.-M. (2002). Individual differences in L2 fluency: The effect of neurobiological correlates. In Cook, V. (Ed.), Portraits of the L2 user (pp. 221249). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Díaz-Campos, M. (2004). Context of learning in the acquisition of Spanish second language phonology. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 249273.Google Scholar
Dudley, L. (2007). Connecting L2 learners to the larger community. Canadian Modern Language Review, 63, 539561.Google Scholar
Ellis, N. C. (2006). Selective attention and transfer phenomena in L2 acquisition: Contingency, cue competition, salience, interference, overshadowing, blocking, and perceptual learning. Applied Linguistics, 27, 164194.Google Scholar
Ellis, N. C., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (2006). Language emergence: Implications for applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 27, 558589.Google Scholar
Fillmore, C. J. (1979). On fluency. In Fillmore, C. J., Kemple, D., & Wang, W. (Eds.), Individual differences in language ability and language behavior (pp. 85101). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Freed, B. F., Segalowitz, N., & Dewey, D. P. (2004). Context of learning and second language fluency in French. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 275301.Google Scholar
Gatbonton, E., & Segalowitz, N. (2005). Rethinking communicative language teaching: A focus on access to fluency. Canadian Modern Language Review, 61, 325353.Google Scholar
Guillot, M.-N. (1999). Fluency and its teaching. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Hahn, L. D. (2004). Primary stress and intelligibility: Research to motivate the teaching of suprasegmentals. TESOL Quarterly, 38, 201223.Google Scholar
Just, M., & Carpenter, P. (1992). A capacity theory of comprehension: Individual differences in working memory. Psychological Review, 99, 122149.Google Scholar
Kormos, J. (2006). Speech production and second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Lafford, B. A. (2004). The effect of the context of learning on the use of communication strategies by learners of Spanish as a second language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 201225.Google Scholar
Lennon, P. (1990). Investigating fluency in EFL: A quantitative approach. Language Learning, 40, 387413.Google Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M. (1989). Speaking: From intention to articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levelt, W. J. M., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (1999). A theory of lexical access in speech production. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 138.Google Scholar
MacIntyre, P. D., Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K. A. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. Modern Language Journal, 82, 545562.Google Scholar
Mehnert, U. (1998). The effects of different lengths of time for planning on second language performance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 20, 83108.Google Scholar
Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (2001). Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech: The role of speaking rate. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 451468.Google Scholar
Munro, M. J., Derwing, T. M., & Morton, S. L. (2006). The mutual intelligibility of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, 111131.Google Scholar
Nation, I. S. P. (1989). Improving speaking fluency. System, 17, 377384.Google Scholar
O’Brien, I., Segalowitz, N., Freed, B. F., & Collentine, J. (2007). Phonological memory predicts second language oral fluency in adults. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 29, 557581.Google Scholar
Ortega, L. (1999). Planning and focus on form in L2 performance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 109148.Google Scholar
Ortega, L., & Iberri-Shea, G. (2005). Longitudinal research in second language acquisition: Recent trends and future directions. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, 2645.Google Scholar
Pienemann, M. (1998). Language processing and second language development: Processability theory. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
Raupach, M. (1980). Temporal variables in first and second language speech production. In Dechert, H. W. & Raupach, M. (Eds.), Temporal variables in speech: Studies in honour of Frieda Goldman-Eisler (pp. 263270). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Riazantseva, A. (2001). Second language proficiency and pausing: A study of Russian speakers of English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 497526.Google Scholar
Riggenbach, H. (Ed.). (2000). Perspectives on fluency. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Riggenbach, H. (1991). Towards an understanding of fluency: A microanalysis of nonnative speaker conversations. Discourse Processes, 14, 423441.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, N. (2007). Access fluidity, attention control, and the acquisition of fluency in a second language. TESOL Quarterly, 41, 181186.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, N., & Freed, B. F. (2004). Context, contact, and cognition in oral fluency acquisition: Learning Spanish in at home and study abroad contexts. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 26, 173199.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, N., Freed, B. F., Collentine, J., Lafford, B. A., Lazar, N., & Díaz-Campos, M. (2004). A comparison of Spanish second language acquisition in two different learning contexts: Study abroad and the domestic classroom. Frontiers, 10, 118.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, N., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2005). Automaticity and second language learning. In Kroll, J. F. & De Groot, A. M. B. (Eds.), Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. 371378). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Segalowitz, S. J., Segalowitz, N., & Wood, A. G. (1998). Assessing the development of automaticity in second language word recognition. Applied Psycholinguistics, 19, 5367.Google Scholar
Skehan, P., & Foster, P. (1999). The influence of task structure and processing conditions on narrative retellings. Language Learning, 49, 93120.Google Scholar
Towell, R. (2002). Relative degrees of fluency: A comparative case study of advanced learners of French. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 40, 117150.Google Scholar
Towell, R., & Dewaele, J.-M. (2005). The role of psycholinguistic factors in the development of fluency. In Dewaele, J.-M. (Ed.), Focus on French as a foreign language (pp. 210239). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Towell, R., Hawkins, R., & Bazergui, N. (1996). The development of fluency in advanced learners of French. Applied Linguistics, 17, 84119.Google Scholar
Trofimovich, P., & Baker, W. (2006). Learning second language suprasegmentals: Effect of L2 experience on prosody and fluency characteristics of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, 130.Google Scholar
Ullman, M. T. (2001). The neural basis of lexicon and grammar in first and second language: The declarative/procedural model. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 4, 105122.Google Scholar
Wood, D. (2001). In search of fluency: What is it and how can we teach it? Canadian Modern Language Review, 57, 573589.Google Scholar
Zhang, J. (2002). The effects of duration and sonority on contour tone distribution: A typological survey. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Zielinski, B. (2008). The listener: No longer the silent partner in reduced intelligibility. System, 36, 6984.Google Scholar