Sunday, July 13, 2014

Does Extra Planning Time and Directions Reduce L2 Learner’s Errors During Speaking Activities?

This posting is part of an assignment for reviewing a study as part of my Second Language Acquisition course at NAU with Dr. Plonsky.

Title: Does Extra Planning Time and Directions Reduce L2 Learner’s Errors During Speaking Activities?

Problem: If we give students instructions for focusing on certain aspects of their speaking and extra time during a speaking task, how do we know if they will make less grammar errors or use more complex speech?

The study: This study sought to determine whether giving students guidance during their speaking tasks and enough time to complete it would result in less grammar mistakes and more complex speech. In giving learners guided instruction on the use of English articles along with ample time to complete the speaking task, the researchers wanted to determine if the students used articles more accurately than a group of students who were pressured for time and given unguided instruction. The findings showed that learners given guidance and time for planning produced more accurate use of English articles and more complex language than the group that did not. But these learners did not produce very fluent speech compared to the group that was pressured for time and had not guidance.

The take-home message: This study suggests that if we give students guidance on a specific aspect of grammar to focus on and extra time they will make less grammar mistakes and use more complex words when speaking. However, it seems giving them this kind of a focus comes at a loss for how fluently they are able to speak. For English speaking teachers, we might consider using the results from this research to make decisions on how we allot time and guided instructions to a particular speaking task. If our purpose is to encourage fluency, then perhaps pressured tasks with no grammar guidance is best. If our purpose is to get learners to use more complex words and forms of grammar, then it might be better to allot more time and guided instruction on grammar points.

Article citation: Ahmadian, M, J. (2012). The effects of guided careful online planning on complexity, accuracy and fluency in intermediate EFL learners’ oral production: The case of English articles. Language Teaching Research, 16, 129-149. 

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