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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2019

Charles Nagle*
Iowa State University
Pavel Trofimovich
Concordia University
Annie Bergeron
Concordia University
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Charles Nagle, Iowa State University, Department of World Languages and Cultures, 3102 G Pearson Hall, 505 Morrill Drive, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail:


This study took a dynamic approach to second language (L2) comprehensibility, examining how listeners construct comprehensibility profiles for L2 Spanish speakers during the listening task and what features enhance or diminish comprehensibility. Listeners were 24 native Spanish speakers who evaluated 2–5 minute audio clips recorded by three university-level L2 Spanish speakers responding to two prompts. Listeners rated comprehensibility dynamically, using Idiodynamic Software to upgrade or downgrade comprehensibility over the course of the listening task. Dynamic ratings for one audio clip were video-captured for stimulated recall, and listeners were interviewed to understand which aspects of L2 speech were associated with enhanced versus diminished comprehensibility. Results indicated that clips that were downgraded more often received lower global ratings but upgrading was not associated with higher ratings. Certain problematic features and individual episodes caused listeners’ impressions to converge, though substantial individual variation among listeners was evident.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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This study was supported by an Iowa State University Social Sciences Seed Grant to the first author and grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the second author. We are deeply grateful to Cristina Uribe for her help with data analyses, to Peter MacIntyre for making the Idiodynamic Software available, and to the anonymous reviewers and the editor, Susan Gass, for their insightful comments and suggestions that helped us refine this article. The data and materials for this study are publicly accessible using the IRIS Repository at and using the Open Science Framework at

The experiment in this article earned an Open Materials badge for transparent practices. The materials are available at

The experiment in this article earned an Open Data badge for transparent practices. The materials are available at



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