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The role of task type and proficiency level in second language speech production

Posted on:2009-12-13Degree:Ph.DType:Thesis
University:Purdue UniversityCandidate:Neary-Sundquist, Colleen AFull Text:PDF
This dissertation examines the relationship between the effect of varying proficiency levels and task types on the use of cohesive devices in second language speech production. The thesis consists of two separate studies, one on English speakers learning German and one on Chinese and Korean learners of English. The data for the German study come from 17 oral proficiency interviews based on the ACTFL guidelines; the English data come from 47 oral proficiency exam administered at a large Midwestern university to international graduate students. In order to examine the role of task type and proficiency level, the German data were subdivided into three proficiency levels by the interviewer. Two-minute segments were selected from the interview that corresponded to three different tasks. The English data consist of 10 separate two-minute tasks, from which four were selected. The English learners were classified into five proficiency levels by raters trained by the university's oral proficiency program.;The data were examined for the frequency of discourse markers and conjunctions used on different tasks and at different proficiency levels. The fluency and complexity of the output were also examined. The results show that proficiency level is a significant factor in the use of discourse markers, conjunctions, and fluency. The frequency of discourse markers and conjunctions, as well as fluency, all generally increase at higher proficiency levels in both the German and the English data. The differences between the lowest and highest levels are statistically significant. In the German data, the most structured task (narration) exhibited a rise in conjunction use and drop in discourse marker use. In the English data, one task (leaving a telephone message) was significantly different from the other tasks in the frequency of discourse marker. The anomalous results for these two more structured tasks suggest that the degree of structure in a task may have an impact on a number of performance variables.
Keywords/Search Tags:Task, Proficiency, English data
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