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PURDUE UNIVERSITY

GRADUATE SCHOOL Thesis Acceptance

This is to certify that the thesis prepared By Christopher Grant Blake Entitled THE POTENTIAL OF TEXT-BASED INTERNET CHATS FOR IMPROVING ESL ORAL FLUENCY Complies with University regulations and meets the standards of the Graduate School for originality and quality Doctor of Philosophy

For the degree of

Final examining committee members

April Ginther

, Chair

Margie Berns

Elena Benedicto

Scott Schaffer

Approved by Major Professor(s): April Ginther

Approved by Head of Graduate Program:

Irwin Weiser

Date of Graduate Program Head's Approval: 6-14-2006

THE POTENTIAL OF TEXT-BASED INTERNET CHATS FOR IMPROVING ESL ORAL FLUENCY

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Purdue University by Christopher Grant Blake

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

August 2006 Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana

UMI Number: 3239774

UMI Microform 3239774 Copyright 2007 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb Road P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346

ii

To Jeannie my magnificent wife.

iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful people who have supported and guided me through this project. Let me begin by thanking my supervisor and major professor, Dr. April Ginther, for giving countless hours to mentor me along this dissertation journey. You have opened my eyes to a completely new and exciting approach to second language research and have given me the confidence to continue this work in the years to come. I want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Margie Berns who inspired me from the very beginning to pursue this degree and who has motivated me to the end. Your input during this period of my life has been invaluable. Heartfelt appreciation goes to my other committee members as well. Thank you Dr. Scott Schaffer for reminding meboth in and out of classthat the field of education is all about people. Your genuine interest in students is expressed in so many ways and will always be an example to me. Thank you Dr. Elena Benedicto for jumping on board at the last minute. You provided such brilliant input when I was just venturing out in this field, and I am so grateful that you have lent your critical eye once again. This dissertation would not have been possible without many other wonderful people who believed in me and gave of their precious time, talent, and resources. I am indebted to Annett Benson and the staff of Purdue Village Language Center who so graciously let me use their classroom and computer facilities to conduct the teaching phase of the project. I also owe so much to Dr. Dachuang Cao who guided me through the statistical analysis of data in this project and saved me from sleepless nights.

iv I want to express my love and appreciation to my parents and parents-inlaw who gave endless hours of their time to watch my four beautiful children and support me over the past five years. Marianne Becker, I will never forget the many days you rushed to my aid at the last minute and helped me shift from changing diapers to conducting research. A crown awaits you! And finally, I want to say thank you to my magnificent wife, Jeannie. You have given up so much to help make this dream a reality. You are my dearest friend on this journey of life and I cant wait to see what lies ahead!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page LIST OF TABLES ...............................................................................................viii LIST OF FIGURES ...............................................................................................ix ABSTRACT ..........................................................................................................xi CHAPTER 1. Introduction..................................................................................... 1 1.1. Overview..................................................................................................... 1 1.2. Theoretical Framework ............................................................................... 2 1.2.1. Temporal Measures of Fluency ............................................................ 2 1.2.2. Levelts Model of Language Production................................................ 4 1.2.3. Shriffrin & Schneiders (1977) Model of Automatic Vs Controlled Information Processing ......................................................................... 6 1.2.4. Curriculum Design ................................................................................ 8 CHAPTER 2. Review of related literature........................................................... 10 2.1. Approaches to Fluency ............................................................................. 10 2.2. Temporal Measures of Fluency ................................................................ 12 2.3. Pausing Phenomena ................................................................................ 19 2.3.1. Speech Rate....................................................................................... 21 2.3.2. Repair Phenomena............................................................................. 23 2.4. Empirical Research on Fluency ................................................................ 24 2.5. Theories of Fluency .................................................................................. 28 2.6. Teaching Fluency ..................................................................................... 34 2.7. Computer Assisted Language Learning and Fluency ............................... 37 2.8. Summary .................................................................................................. 41 CHAPTER 3. Methodology ................................................................................. 44 3.1. Overview of the Experimental Design....................................................... 44 3.2. Recruitment and Screening of Participants............................................... 44 3.3. Demographic Information Related to Participants .................................... 47

vi Page 3.4. Orientation ................................................................................................ 49 3.5. Pretest and Posttest ................................................................................. 49 3.6. Instructional Intervention........................................................................... 51 3.7. Instructional Method: On-line Internet Chat group and Face-to-Face Group ....................................................................................................... 52 3.8. Fluency Measures .................................................................................... 53 3.9. Speech Sample Analysis .......................................................................... 54 3.10. Procedures for Locating Silent and Filled Pauses .................................. 55 3.11. Transcription of Data .............................................................................. 58 3.12. Tabulation of Data .................................................................................. 59 3.13. Statistical Procedures ............................................................................. 59 3.14. Administration of Exit Surveys ................................................................ 61 CHAPTER 4. Results ......................................................................................... 63 4.1. Introduction............................................................................................... 63 4.2. Descriptive Statistics of Gain Scores........................................................ 64 4.3. Statistical Analyses of Fluency Improvement for Instructional Groups ..... 72 4.3.1. Testing of Assumptions that Underlie the Statistical Analyses ........... 72 4.4. Results of the Five One-Way ANOVAs on the Dependent Variable Measures.................................................................................................. 74 4.5. Results of the Planned Comparisons to Test Specific Hypotheses .......... 76 4.6. Effect Size ................................................................................................ 78 4.7. Results of the Exit Survey......................................................................... 79 CHAPTER 5. Discussion .................................................................................... 91 5.1. Introduction............................................................................................... 91 5.2. Results of Hypothesis Testing .................................................................. 91 5.3. Evaluation of the Fluency Variables ......................................................... 96 5.3.1. Statistical Significance of Fluency Variables....................................... 96 5.4. Correlation of Fluency Variables............................................................. 101 5.5. Discussion of Exit-Survey Results .......................................................... 108 5.6. Pedagogical Implications ........................................................................ 110 5.7. Limitations of the Study .......................................................................... 111 5.8. Direction for Future Research................................................................. 113 5.9. Conclusion.............................................................................................. 114 LIST OF REFERENCES .................................................................................. 116

vii Page APPENDICES Appendix A. Flier Used in Recruiting Participants ......................................... 128 Appendix B. Questions Used in the Initial Follow-Up / Screening of Prospective Participants ........................................................... 129 Appendix C. Course Information Packet Distributed to the Control Group Participants............................................................................... 130 Appendix D. Course Information Packet Distributed to the Internet Chat Group Participants .................................................................... 137 Appendix E. Course Information Packet Distributed to the Face-to-Face Group Participants ..................................................................... 146 Appendix F. Pretest Prompt .......................................................................... 154 Appendix G. Posttest Prompt ........................................................................ 155 Appendix H. Exit Survey Administered to Control Group Participants ........... 156 Appendix I. Exit Survey Administered to Face-to-Face Group Participants.. 157 Appendix J. Exit Survey Administered to Internet Chat group Participants ... 158 Appendix K. Face-to-Face Group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey 159 Appendix L. Internet Chat Group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey. .............................................................................. 162 Appendix M. Control Group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey........ 164 VITA ................................................................................................................. 167

viii

LIST OF TABLES

Table Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 2.3 Table 3.1

Page

Fluency Variables Related to Pause Phenomena .......................... 14 Fluency Variables Related to Quantity and Rate of Speech ............ 15 Fluency Variables Realted to Languge Repairs............................... 17 Demographic Information on Participants in Each Experimental Group............................................................................................... 48 Table 3.2 Five Dependent Variables Analyzed Via One-Way ANOVA ............ 60 Table 4.1 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Speaking Rate Measure........................................................................................... 66 Table 4.2 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Phonation Time Ration Measure........................................................................................... 67 Table 4.3 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Articulation Rate Measure .......................................................................................... 68 Table 4.4 Descriptive Statisitics for the Results on the Mean Length of Run Measure........................................................................................... 69 Table 4.5 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Average Length of Pause Measure .......................................................................................... 70 Table 4.6 One-Way ANOVAs Comparing Pretest Fluency Performances of the Three Experimental Groups on the Five Fluency Measures............ 73 Table 4.7 Results of Levenes Test of Homogeneity of Variance Across Groups on the Five Gain Score Measures ................................................... 74 Table 4.8 One-Way Analyses of Variance for Effects of Treatment Variables on Fluency Measure Gains Scores....................................................... 75 Table 4.9 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 1: Face-toFace Group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Control Group .................................................................................. 76 Table 4.10 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 2: Internet Chat group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Control Group .................................................................................. 77 Table 4.11 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 3: Internet Chat group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Faceto-Face Group ................................................................................. 77 Table 5.1 Percent Increases in Fluency for Individual Participants................ 100 Table 5.2 Bivariate Correlations of Fluency Variable Gain Scores ................ 102 Table 5.3 Speech Run of Participant F13 (Face-to-Face Group) from Speech Sample 1 and Speech Sample 2 ................................................. 107

ix

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Figure 3.1. Figure 3.2. Figure 3.3. Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6. Figure 4.7. Figure 4.8. Figure 4.9. Figure 4.10. Figure 4.11. Figure 4.12. Figure 4.13. Figure 4.14.

Page Overview of Experimental Design ................................................. 45 Sample view of 3.75 second segment of speech as displayed in the PRAAT editing window............................................................ 56 Sample of speech in PRAAT demonstrating the changes that occur in formants when shifting from a word segment to a filled pause. ........................................................................................... 58 Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Speaking Rate Measure ............................................................... 66 Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Phonation Time Ratio Measure .................................................... 67 Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Articulation Rate Measure ............................................................ 68 Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Mean Length of Run Measure ...................................................... 69 Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Average Length of Pause Measure .............................................. 70 Responses to Exit Survey Item #1 Course helped me to improve my fluency. ..................................................................... 82 Responses to Exit Survey Item #2 Course helped me to improve my listening. ................................................................... 82 Responses to Exit Survey Item #3 Course helped me to improve knowledge of American culture...................................... 83 Responses to Exit Survey Item #4 Course helped me to i mprove my vocabulary................................................................. 83 Responses to Exit Survey Item #5 The topics selected for this course were useful to me............................................................. 84 Responses to Exit Survey Item #6 I felt connected to other students in the course. ................................................................. 84 Responses to Exit Survey Item #7 I Would Recommend this Course to a Friend ........................................................................ 85 Responses to Exit Survey Item #8 I Feel More Comfortable Using English Now ....................................................................... 85 Responses to Exit Survey Item #9 The Course Would Have Been Better Had it Met in a Face-to-Face Classroom. ................ 86

x Figure Page

Figure 4.15. Responses to Exit Survey Item #10 Overall, I Think This Was a Beneficial Course. ........................................................................ 86 Figure 4.16. Responses to Exit Survey Item #11 I am proficient at Typing. 87 Figure 4.17. Responses to Exit Survey Item #12 I am Proficient at Using Computers. ................................................................................... 87 Figure 4.18. Responses to Exit Survey Item #13 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Listening Passage Activities...................................... 88 Figure 4.19. Responses to Exit Survey Item #14 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line New Expressions Activities. ...................................... 88 Figure 4.20. Responses to Exit Survey Item #15 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Unit Quizzes............................................................... 89 Figure 4.21. Responses to Exit Survey Item #16 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Chat Component of the Course. ............................... 89 Figure 4.22. Responses to Exit Survey Item #17 Regarding the Usefulness of the Face-to-Face Component of the Course ............................... 90 Figure 5.1. Options for Improving Speaking Rate Gain Scores..................... 104 Figure 5.2. Options for Improving Phonation Time Ratio Gain Scores.......... 105 Figure 5.3. Temporal Representation of Options for Improving Phonation Time Ratio................................................................................... 106

xi

ABSTRACT

Blake, Christopher Grant, Ph.D., Purdue University, August, 2006. The Potential of Text-Based Internet Chats for Improving ESL Oral Fluency. Major Professor: April Ginther.

Text-based Internet chats have become a popular component of second language classrooms, making it possible for students to communicate with native speakers and second language learners across the globe. While a number of studies have reported on the positive affects that chat discourse can have on the learning environment, few studies have examined whether participation in chat discourse can help learners improve their proficiency in a second language. To the best of knowledge, no studies to date have examined whether second language learners can improve their oral fluency through participating in a textbased chat learning environment. This dissertation addresses the above question by examining the oral fluency development of 34 ESL learners who participated in the same six week course but in separate instructional environments: a text-based Internet chat environment, a traditional face-to-face environment, and a control environment that involved independent learning with no student interaction. A fluency pretest was administered prior to the study and a posttest was administered at the end. Speech samples collected from these tests were analyzed for fluency at five temporal variable levels: speaking rate (SR), phonation time ratio (PTR), articulation rate (AR), mean length of run (MLR), and average length of pauses (ALP). Improvement in fluency was measured in terms of the pretest to posttest gain scores on each of these measures.

xii The study found that the gain scores of participants in the text-based Internet chat environment were significantly higher on the PTR and MLR measures than the gain scores of participants in the face-to-face and control environments. Gain scores on the three other measures were not significant. The author discusses these findings in relationship to Levelts (1989) model of language production and argues that text-based Internet chat environments can be a useful way of building oral fluency by facilitating the automatization of lexical and grammatical knowledge at the formulator level.

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Overview The purpose of this dissertation is to examine whether ESL oral fluency can be improved through the medium of a text-based Internet chat environment. Over the past decade, text-based Internet chat rooms have become an increasingly popular component of on-line second language courses. In this environment, participants communicate with each other in real time by typing messages that instantly appear on the computer screens of other members who are logged into the virtual meeting space. These chat rooms give students the opportunity to use the target language with other learners and to interact with teachers and visitors who join the discussions. Although recent advancements in technology have added visual and audio optionsenabling participants to communicate via cameras and microphones connected to their computersthe text approach continues to be one of the most reliable and economically feasible methods of connecting learners and instructors around the globe. While it is generally assumed that chat rooms are useful elements in online language courses, few studies have addressed the potential of this instructional medium for improving oral proficiency. This may be due to an underlying assumption that oral skills can only be developed in an oral learning environment such as the traditional face-to-face classroom. Although one can imagine how the lexical / syntactic skills developed in a text-based chat environment might lead to improvements in an area such as writing, the transfer to oral proficiency seems less straightforward. At the same time, if it were found that oral fluency skills could be developed in a text-based chat environment,

2 there would be immediate implications for areas such as distance education that rely heavily on text-based approaches to teaching. The present study examines this possibility by asking the following question: In an ESL class with similar students and comparable teaching materials, will there be differences in fluency improvement between students who take the course in a text-based Internet chat environment, those who take the same course in a traditional face-to-face environment, and students in a control environment that does not involve participant interaction? It is hypothesized that participants in the text-based Internet chat instructional environment will demonstrate gains in oral fluency that are greater than those made by participants in the traditional face-to-face instructional environment. This hypothesis and the method by which it will be tested are supported by a theoretical framework that pertains to research in fluency, language production, and human information processing.

1.2. Theoretical Framework

1.2.1. Temporal Measures of Fluency Although spoken fluency is a multi-faceted phenomenon involving the successful interaction of many variables, empirical studies indicate that it is linked to a relatively narrow range of temporal measures. Some of the variables cited in the literature as being indicative of fluency include 1) rate of speech (Ejzenberg, 2000; Freed, 2000; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lennon, 1990; Towell et al., 1996), 2) mean length of run (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Raupach, 1987; Towell et al., 1996),

3 3) phonation time ratio (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Raupach, 1987; Towell et al., 1996; van Gelderen, 1994), 4) articulation rate (Towell et al., 1996), 5) average length of pauses (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Towell et al.), 6) amount of filled pauses (Rohde, 1985) and filled pauses per T-unit, (Lennon, 1990), 7) percent of T-units followed by a pause (Lennon, 1990), 8) stressed words per minute (Kormos & Denes, 2004). Of the eight measures listed above, the first five have been selected for this study for the reason that they are relatively easy to obtain through digital voice analysis and have been validated repeatedly in the literature (see Towel et al. 1996). By adopting these measures, the current study takes a focused approachmore often referred to as the narrow approachto defining and measuring fluency. This approach has been characterized by Lennon (1990) as native-like rapidity in a language (p.390) and by Fillmore (1979) as the ability to fill time with talk (p.93). It stands in contrast to an alternative approach that Lennon refers to as the broad sense of fluency. The broad sense or global approach views fluency as overall proficiency in a language. Rather than focusing on specific temporal variables, fluency at this level refers to a variety of language features such as accuracy, lexical complexity, and even appropriateness and idiomaticity. Expressions like Sally speaks German fluently or ChiHo is fluent in English reflect this approach. Holistic evaluation forms completed by trained raters are the fluency measures typically employed when taking a global approach to fluency. Although researchers such as Sajavaara and Lehtonen (1978) argue that fluency is too complex to be reduced to a handful of temporal variables, other studies (e.g. Freed, 1995; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lehtonen, 1981; Lennon, 1984, , 1990; Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987; Riggenbach, 1991; Rohde, 1985) indicate that there is a correlation between certain temporal variables and the holistic measures employed at the global level. This evidence together with

4 the fact that temporal variables lend themselves more readily to quantitative analysis are the main factors behind the measurement paradigm that has been adopted for the current study.

1.2.2. Levelts Model of Language Production Levelt (1989) views language production as occurring in a series of three modular stages: conceptualization, formulation, and articulation. A simplified portrayal of Levelts model is presented in Figure 1.1. In the conceptualization stage, the speaker first determines the semantic content of what she or he wants to say and then generates a preverbal message. At this first stage, there are no lexical items or grammatical structures associated with the message, but only a conceptual outline or preverbal proposition of what is to be said. The next stage of language production occurs in the formulator in which semantic and morphophonological information is applied to the preverbal message and the appropriate lexical items are selected. All of the linguistic information that the speaker needs for formulating the message is stored in what Levelt refers to broadly as the lexiconan independent module that can be accessed at either the formulation or comprehension stages of communication. After a phonetic plan has been generated by the formulator, the speaker can either articulate the message via the articulator or internally scan and evaluate the message (as internal speech) in his or her speech comprehension system conceived by Levelt as yet another independent module. Finally, in the articulation stage, the articulator takes the phonetic plan generated by the formulator and puts it into actual speech via activation of the lungs and other speech organs.

CONCEPTUALIZER message generation

preverbal message

FORMULATOR grammatical encoding


surface structure

LEXICON lemmas forms

phonological encoding

phonetic plan

ARTICULATOR

Figure 1.1. Simplified Diagram of Levelts (1989) Model of Language Production

Levelts model supports the current studys hypothesis in two respects. First, by conceptualizing the oral production of speech sounds as a final and separate process from the other events in language processing, Levelts model suggests that on-line and face-to-face activities involve the same language production processes up until the final output stage in which on-line chatting requires the activation of muscles in the hands and fingers and face-to-face communication requires the activation of muscles in the oral cavity. A similar observation is made by Payne and Whitney (2002) as they also use the Levelt

6 model to explain their finding that ESL participants involved in on-line chat activities were are able to improve their oral proficiency levels as much as students who were involved in only face-to-face activities. A second link to Levelts theory is in regard to the specific events that take place in the language production process at the formulator level. As noted above, this second stage involves the speaker accessing his or her mental lexicon to find the appropriate words and grammatical structures that best match the content of the preverbal message. If Levelts first stage of conceptualization is not language specific as de Bot (1992) suggests, then it can be argued that the processes that take place at the formulation stage are the most significant for fluent performance in a second language. In other words, to the degree to which the second language speaker can access the appropriate lemmas (semantic representations) and lexemes (morphophonological representations) that are necessary for the speech act, he or she will be capable of performing a given task in a fluent mannerbarring, of course, any articulation problems that would interfere in the production process. Since the above process takes place prior to the engagement of the articulator, it follows that both on-line and face-to-face language activities have equal potential for reinforcing the cognitive processes at this level.

1.2.3. Shriffrin & Schneiders (1977) Model of Automatic Vs Controlled Information Processing Shiffrin & Schneider (1977) view information processing as taking place in one of two different modescontrolled search or automatic detection. Processing at the controlled search level requires high levels of attention and makes use of the limited capacity of short term memory. According to the authors, controlled processing operations are most often utilized when a person is learning something for the first time or when the information is relatively unfamiliar. In these novel cognitive situations, a person must carefully think

7 through every step of the activity from beginning to end. Without this careful allocation of attention, successful completion of the task is unlikely. Driving a manual shift car for the first time is a useful analogy of a controlled search process. The new driver must give attention to both the clutch and the accelerator pedalsfocusing on the appropriate timing of each. At this stage, if the driver tries to focus on another new tasksuch as learning how to operate a new stereo system in the carsuccessful performance of either task would be difficult at best. Automatic detection processing, on the other hand, takes place through repeated practice and exposure to activities at the controlled level. Unlike controlled search activities, automatic processes are not dependent upon short term memory but instead are stored in long term memory. One advantage of automatic activities cited by Shiffrin & Schneider is that they can be carried out while completing other tasks at the controlled search level. For example, if driving a manual shift car has become an automatic activity, then it will be possible to carry out this activity while simultaneously searching for a road on a map or listening carefully to a radio program. Although Shiffrin and Schneiders model does not directly address issues in language fluency, the construct is nonetheless relevant to the current study when applied to Levelts model of language production. As already discussed, the ability to speak a second language, according to Levelts model, depends upon successfully accessing linguistic knowledge from the lexicon. If this process of accessing information at the formulator level is viewed through Shiffrin and Schneiders framework, then lexical retrieval at any given point may be placed on a continuum from being highly controlled to highly automatic. Automaticity in this framework is then largely determined by the degree to which the second language speaker is familiar with the communication context and has experience accessing the required information in the lexicon. A fluent performance could thus be explained as one in which the language speaker is able to perform the tasks automatically and without a great deal of effort. Such a

8 view of fluency is found repeatedly in the literature (Carr, 1992; Pawley & Syder, 1983; Payne & Whitney, 2002; Schmidt, 1992; Segalowitz, 2000; Segalowitz & Freed, 2004; Segalowitz & Segalowitz, 1993; Segalowitz, Segalowitz, & Wood, 1998; Wood, 2001). The hypothesis in the current study that fluency can be improved in an on-line environment is based, in part, on the assumption that using English in an on-line chat environment will help to build automaticity at the formulator level via repeated exposure to and practice of English structures in the on-line activities.

1.2.4. Curriculum Design A fourth area of theory that comes to bear on the current study is from the field of language curriculum design, especially as it pertains to computer assisted language learning (CALL) and distance education. These assumptions relate to the nature of distance education, the sequencing of language instruction, and the potential of synchronous communication for enhancing oral fluency. Early research in distance education focused on comparing the learning outcomes of face-to-face and distance education environments. Various types of media environments were also compared with each other in the hope of finding an approach that would result in higher achievement and greater student satisfaction than traditional approaches. As noted by Russell (1999) in his review of over 350 distance education studies from 1928 to 1996, the common finding in the majority of these studies was that there was no significant difference in the learning outcomes of distance education and traditional face-to-face courses. In an earlier publication, Clark (1994) admonished educators to abandon the idea that enhanced media would lead to enhanced learning. Instead, he argued that the focus in distance education should be on the development of teaching methods that are appropriate for the learning context. More recently, research in distance education has moved away from comparing different types of media to instead focusing on the interaction between the learner and the

9 distance learning environment. In such studies, for example examinations of interactivity in distance learning, the focus shifts from the media itself to the appropriate use of media and methods to arrive at the desired learning outcome (e.g. Bloch, 2002; Hughes & Hewson, 1998; McHenry & Bozik, 1995; Pujol, 1995; Reinhart, 1998; Scott, 2002; Vrasidas & McIsaac, 1999). The assumptions in the current study are informed by the findings presented above. Rather than comparing on-line and face-to-face learning methods as ends in themselves, this study examines the outcomes of both environments with the goal of understanding if the language production processes facilitated by these approaches are comparable. The question, in other words, is not whether one environment is better than the other, but rather does the type of interaction that takes place in one environment (on-line chatting) facilitate similar language production processes and language outcomes as in the other environment (faceto-face chatting). A control group is included in the research design and is used as a benchmark for assessing fluency development in the two experimental groups. Contrary to most studies in which a finding of no-difference is the least desirable outcome, such a result in this study would be a welcome validation of on-line chat approaches to fluency buildingespecially in contexts where faceto-face language practice is not possible.

10

CHAPTER 2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

2.1. Approaches to Fluency Fluency is conceptualized in various ways in the literature. After reviewing the literature, Schmitt-Gevers (1993) concluded that there were over 32 possible definitions of the term. Lennon (1990) provides a useful way of managing the discussion by parsing the use of fluency into either the broad or narrow sense. At the broad level, fluency is used synonymously with the term proficiency, as in the statement Nancy speaks Spanish fluently. This holistic use refers to a range of competencies including grammatical, lexical, and semantic and in this way is similar to the notion of communicative competence (Canale, 1983; Canale & Swain, 1980; Hymes, 1971; Savignon, 1997). For example, in one of the earliest and most frequently cited works on the subject, Fillmore (1979) argues that fluency includes features such as speech rate, complexity, coherence, appropriateness, and even creativity. He states that the maximally gifted wielder of a language would be adept in all of these areas (p.93). Just as Canale and Swain would not consider a speaker to be communicatively competent based on grammatical accuracy alone, Fillmore does not consider a speaker to be fluent simply because he or she can speak at a rapid pace with few pauses. Instead, successful performance is attributed to abilities at multiple sub-levels. The broad approach to fluency is adopted by others. Brumfit (1984) defines fluency as the maximally effective operation of the language system so far acquired by the student (p.57); Faerch, Haastrup, and Phillipson (1984) call it the capacity to be able to put what one wants to say into words with ease (p.143). Clahsen (1987) likens it to nativelike competence in the target language (p.67); Sajavaara (1987) refers to it as the communicative

11 acceptability of the speech act (p.62); and Lesson (1975) views fluency as a multi-faceted phenomenon that involves a complex of linguistic and psychomotor skills at both the encoding and decoding level (p. v). Sajavaara and Lehtonen (1978) summarize the underlying rationale of this approach. While they acknowledge the assessment problems that come with a loose application of the term, they make a case against the alternative by citing a range of variables that can affect how a message is delivered and perceived (e.g., nature of the speech task, sociolinguist context, internal pressures of the speaker). The authors maintain that fluency cannot be boiled down to a few isolatable variables such as rate of speech, length of pauses, and phonetic density. They state: Whatever fluency is, it is not a variable which is open to either physical or grammatical means of measurement. It is . . . obvious that it is much easier to give an exact definition for disfluency than for fluency (p.51). In contrast with the broad sense of fluency, Lennon (1990) describes the narrow sense as one, presumably isolatable, component of oral proficiency (p. 389), and this component he argues is native-like rapidity and smoothness. Unlike the broad approach which views fluency as a persons overall proficiency in a language, the narrow approach focuses on specific features relating to the manner of the speakers oral production (e.g., rate of speech and various pausing phenomena). Descriptors such as effortless, efficient, and smooth, are used to describe a fluent speaker at this level in contrast to terms such as accurate, appropriate, idiomatic, and clear at the broad level. Because the expression narrow approach has negative connotations (e.g., reductionist) and lacks descriptive qualities, the term focused approach will be used in the remainder of this thesis in reference to this perspective of fluency. Like its counterpart, the focused approach also has its share of advocates. The underlying rationale for this approach is that it is precise and thereby more conducive to empirical research. For example, Heike (1985) calls for the use of explicit variables in measuring fluency and the employment of strategies that overcome the holistic notion of fluency that guides our thinking (p.135);

12 Schmidt (1992) states that the focused approach is better than the alternative which appears to differ little from the concept of proficiency (p.359); and Chambers (1997) argues that the use of measurable fluency variables provides a useful anchorage for a concept which is prone to vagueness and multiple interpretations (p.538). It is this defining aspect of the focused approachits focus on definable and measurable variablesthat makes it especially attractive to researchers. A potential weakness of the focused approach is addressed in Riggenbach (1991) in which the author explains that one participant in the study demonstrated strong fluency at the focused level (e.g., high speech rate and low frequency of pauses) but was perceived by the rater panel as being dysfluent. Riggenbach comments that the low ratings assigned by the panel were probably due to the participants low level of proficiency as demonstrated by the frequent grammatical inaccuracies in her speech. The author uses this case as evidence that fluency is more of a holistic concept than traditional definitions of fluency have offered (p.434). Although the author does not specify exactly what is meant by traditional definitions, one may assume from the context of the discussion that she is referring to definitions that are based on temporal measures.

2.2. Temporal Measures of Fluency The term temporal variables refers to a range of time-related variables that are used to measure fluency and other aspects of oral language production. The use of temporal variables goes back to research conducted by Goldman-Eisler in the 1950s and 1960s (e.g. Goldman-Eisler, 1958, 1968) in which the author examined the cognitive processes behind speech production. In a summative work, Goldman-Eisler (1968) explains the significance of temporal variables in speech:

13 Speech is a serial phenomenon, an activity spread out in time. It does not, however, fill time continuously, particularly when it is spontaneous, but comes in fits and starts with intermittent periods of non-speech. A passage of speech extending into time consists of two sorts of time: time of vocal action and time of silence. (p.11) Goldman Eislers early work in psycholinguistic research inspired other studies that employed temporal variables to examine cross-linguistic phenomena of speech as well as the cognitive processes behind second language production (e.g. Dechert, 1984; Dechert, Mohle, & Raupach, 1984; Dechert & Raupach, 1980; Dechert & Raupach, 1987; Grosjean, 1980; Mohle, 1984; O'Connell, 1980; Raupach, 1980b; Raupach, 1984; Raupach, 1987; Sajavaara, 1987). Many of the variables used in these studies have been employed in second language fluency studies as well. Tables 2.1 - 2.3 present an inventory of nearly 50 fluency variables that have been cited in the literature from 1978 to 2004.

14 Table 2.1 Fluency Variables Related to Pause Phenomena as Cited in the Literature
Fluency Variable Filled pauses per T-unit hesitations per minute mean length of filled pauses mean length of pauses (filled and unfilled) mean length of unfilled pauses Description total number of filled pauses divided by total number of T-units number of silent pauses that are between .3 to .4 seconds in length total length of filled pauses divided by the total number of filled pauses total length of filled and unfilled pauses divided by the total number of filled and unfilled pauses total length of unfilled pauses divided by total number of unfilled pauses Reference(s) (Lennon, 1990) (Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 1996; van Gelderen, 1994) (van Gelderen, 1994) (Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 1996) (A.E.. Hieke, 1981; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lennon, 1990; Mohle, 1984; M. Raupach, 1980b; Riazantseva, 2001; van Gelderen, 1994) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000) (Riggenbach, 1991) (Cenoz, 1998; A.E. Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Rohde, 1985; Temple, 1992; van Gelderen, 1994) (A.E. Hieke, 1985; Lehtonen, 1981; Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Cenoz, 1998; Kormos & Denes, 2004; M. Raupach, 1980b; Riggenbach, 1991; Rohde, 1985; van Gelderen, 1994) (Lennon, 1984; Mohle, 1984; Riazantseva, 2001)

mean length of sentenceinternal pauses Micropauses per minute Number of filled pauses per minute

pauses = .20 seconds or less number of pauses that are .2 seconds or less total number of filled pauses divided by total second of speech sample multiplied by sixty total number of pauses divided by total second of speech sample multiplied by sixty total number of pauses divided by total time length of speech sample multiplied by sixty Ration of silent pauses within constituent boundaries to silent pauses at boundaries

Number of pauses (filled and unfilled) per minute Number of unfilled (silent) pauses per minute

pause (silent) distribution

15 Table 2.1 Contd


Fluency Variable pause frequency pause ratio percent of T-units followed by pause total duration of sentence internal pauses total number of sentenceinternal silent pauses total number of filled pauses Description ratio of silent pauses to 100 syllables Length of pausing time divided by total length of speech sample total number of T-units divided by total number of filled and unfilled pauses pauses = .20 second or less pauses = .20 seconds or less (uh, er, mm, etc) Reference(s) (Riazantseva, 2001) (Lennon, 1990) (Lennon, 1990) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000)

Table 2.2 Fluency Variables Related to Quantity and Rate of Speech as Cited in the Literature
Fluency Variable articulation rate Description total syllables produced in speech sample divided by total time required to produce those syllables multiplied by sixty number of words in separate matrix and embedded clauses total number of syllables/ phonemes in speech sample divided by total number of run of speech. Reference(s) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000; A.E. Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Mohle, 1984; M. Raupach, 1980b; Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 1996; van Gelderen, 1994) (Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000; A.E. Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lennon, 1990; Mohle, 1984; M. Raupach, 1980b; Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 1996) (Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978)

clause length Mean length of run (MLR)

Mean length of units between pauses

16 Table 2.2 Contd


Fluency Variable Mean length of utterance (MLU) message length Pace phonation time ratio Description total number of words in speech sample divided by the total number of utterances number of words in entire message or speech sample number of stressed words per minute total time spent speaking divided by total time to produce speech sample the ratio of stressed words to total number of words total number of phonemes produced divided by the length of speech sample total number of syllables uttered divided by total length (in seconds) of speech sample multiplied by sixty Total number of words spoken in utterance divided by the number of seconds used to produce utterance total number of words spoken divided by total length (in seconds) of speech sample multiplied by sixty Reference(s) (Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998; Mohle, 1984) (Lennon, 1984; Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Vanderplank, 1993) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Riggenbach, 1991; Towell, Hawkins, & Bazergui, 1996) (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Vanderplank, 1993) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000) (A.E. Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lehtonen, 1981; M. Raupach, 1980b; Rohde, 1985) (Derwing, 1990; Munro & Derwing, 2001)

Space Speech rate: phonemes per unit of time Speech rate: syllables per minute

Speech rate: syllables per second

Speech rate: words per minute

total number of utterances total number of words total number of words in speech sample

(Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998; Lennon, 1984; Mohle, 1984; Riggenbach, 1991) (Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998; Riggenbach, 1991) (Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998; Riggenbach, 1991)

17 Table 2.3 Fluency Variables Related to Language Repairs as Cited in the Literature
Fluency Variable broken words Cutoffs Description hesitation while uttering a word Within-word stops Reference(s) (Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987; Scarcella, Anderson, & Krashen, 1990) (Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Temple, 1992) (Cucchiarini, Helmer, & Boves, 2000; Scarcella, Anderson, & Krashen, 1990) (Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998) (A.E. Hieke, 1985; Riggenbach, 1991; Temple, 1992; van Gelderen, 1994) (A.E. Hieke, 1985; M. Raupach, 1980b; Rohde, 1985; Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978) (Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987; M. Raupach, 1980b; Riggenbach, 1991; Rohde, 1985; Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978; Temple, 1992) (Lennon, 1990)

incomplete phrases incomplete word occurrence of speech markers (uh, repeats, transitions, repair conversions, cutoffs) percent fragments

so I tried to suh (some)

progressive repeats, retraced restarts, reformulations prolonged sounds, lengthening, drawls repair Conversions

total number of incomplete sentences in speech sample divided by the total number of sentences uttered (e.g. to theto the city)

lengthening of a speech sound reformulations in which the original utterance is rejected

repetitions per T-unit

total number of repetitions divided by total number of T-units

18 Table 2.3 Contd


Fluency Variable revisions and repetitions, disfluencies per minute Description total number or speech repairs or repetitions divided by total length of time in seconds multiplied by sixty Reference(s) (A.E. Hieke, 1985; Lennon, 1984, , 1990; Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987; M. Raupach, 1980b; Rohde, 1985; Kari Sajavaara & Lehtonen, 1978; Scarcella, Anderson, & Krashen, 1990; Temple, 1992) (Lennon, 1984, , 1990; Temple, 1992; van Gelderen, 1994) (Lennon, 1990) (Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987; Scarcella, Anderson, & Krashen, 1990) (Temple, 1992)

self-corrections self-corrections per T-unit uh occurrences total number of selfcorrections divided by total number of T-units

word search maker

an utterance made while searching for the right word (e.g. robin robins robinhood)

Several observations may be drawn from the information presented in these tables. First, the sheer number of variables indicates that fluency researchers have yet to narrow the pool of variables to a manageable lot. Instead, with each new study has seemingly come a new assortment of variables that appear to be a slight variation of those employed in previous studies. For the field to advance, it is imperative that researchers begin to focus on a set of variables that can be employed across multiple studies. A second observation is that variables related to pausing (Table 2.1) and speech quantity / rate phenomena (Table 2.2) have been employed in the largest number of studies while variables related to repairs / incomplete language production (Table 2.3) have been cited less frequently. This may be due to the fact that the first two categories of variables lend themselves to observation and quantification whereas the last category requires a more subjective and painstaking analysis of

19 speech. Finally, it should be noted that the vast majority of the cited studies were published in the 1980s and 1990s with only five having been published within the past five years. This is somewhat surprising, especially considering that recent developments in technology have made the collection and analysis of such data much easier than in the past. As already stated, there is an obvious need to narrow the range of fluency variables employed in the field, but this will only occur if studies like these continue in the future. The following sections provide more detailed description of the categories presented in these tables.

2.3. Pausing Phenomena Pausing phenomena are an important part of research on second language production. Studies of listener perception of second language speech have cited pauses as being important as well (e.g. Albrechsten, 1980; Cenoz, 1998; Olynyk, D'Anglejan, & Sankoff, 1987). Goldlman-Eisler (1968) views pauses as falling into three possible categories: 1) Articulation pausesthose that occur at articulatory shifts (e.g., between the two consecutive plosives when uttering top part or tat tat; 2) Hesitation pausesthose that are not related to the process of articulation; and 3) Breathing pausesthose that occur between breaths (p.12). Most researchers make a further distinction between silent pauses and filled pauses. In a review of pausological research, Griffiths (1991) views filled pauses within a broader category of hesitation phenomena which also includes repeats, false starts, and silent pauses of extended duration (p.346). Over the past three decades, scholars have made numerous attempts to categorize the different types of pauses. Kowal and OConnell (1980) distinguish between filled and silent pauses, stating that the later are associated with the generation of meaning or a more cognitive aspect of processing (p.63). Similarly, Sabine and Drommel (1980) classify filled pauses within a group of pauses labeled pauses of dissipationpauses that are unintended by the

20 speaker and do not facilitate speech processing (p.231). Hieke (1981) proposes a new taxonomy that parses hesitation phenomena into two broad categories: stallswhich among other phenomena includes silent and filled pauses; and repairsincluding false starts and repeats. In a more recent article, Chambers (1997) makes a differentiation between natural and unnatural pauses (p.539). Similarly, Cenonz (1998) makes a distinction between fluent pauses those at the boundaries of syntactic unitsand disfluent pausesthose occurring within syntactic boundaries. Olynyk, D'Anglejan et al. (1987) also distinguish between silent and filled pauses but propose that the use of filled pauses may actually be a sign of the speakers fluency and ability to avoid long periods of silence. Meanwhile, Schachter, Christenfeld et al. (1991) distinguished between filled and unfilled pauses and found that the use of filled pauses in academic lectures may be correlated to the difficulty of the material being discussed. But while language production research distinguishes between various types of pauses, the usefulness of this distinction in second language fluency research remains unclear. For example, Mohle (1984) in a study of French and German L2 speakers was inconclusive on whether or not the prevalence of filled pauses in L2 speech was a sign of dysfluency. Riggenbach (1991) did not find a correlation between the frequency of filled pauses and level of fluency, although unfilled pauses were found to be significant. Wiese (1984), however found that the frequency of filled pauses did increase significantly from L1 to L2 speech. Various cut-off points have been selected for pauses. Goldman-Eisler set the cut-off at .25 seconds. This minimum length, the author argued was necessary to avoid the unwanted inclusion of breathing and articulation pauses in the research data. While the majority of studies on speech production have adopted the .25 second parameter, other alternatives have been proposed. For example, in an unpublished thesis, Griffiths (1990) set a lower limit of .1 seconds, and Raupach (1980b) set the limit at .3 seconds. Riggenbach (1991) adopted several cut-off points depending on the type of pauses: Micropauses are defined

21 as those of .20 seconds or less, hesitations are those between .3 and .4 seconds, and unfilled pauses are those between .5 and 3 seconds. Meanwhile, Towel et al. (1996) set the cut-off at .28 seconds, citing practical measurement issues. Many of the variables used in fluency studies are related to pausing phenomena. Goldman-Eisler proposed seven pause-related variables, nearly all of which can be found in subsequent literature on the topic. These variables are 1) placement of pauses in relation to grammatical boundaries (Cenoz, 1998; Lennon, 1984; Mohle, 1984; Riazantseva, 2001); 2) length of pauses (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Mohle, 1984; Raupach, 1980b; Riazantseva, 2001; van Gelderen, 1994); 3) frequency of pauses (Riggenbach, 1991) (Cenoz, 1998; Riazantseva, 2001); 4) relative duration of pauses (total pausing as a percentage of total utterance time); 5) rate of speech production (syllables per utterance) (Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Lehtonen, 1981; Raupach, 1980b; Rohde, 1985); 6) the nature of the speech task associated with the pauses (e.g. planned vs spontaneous); 7) the nature of the speech act associated with the pause (subconscious vs preconceived). The final two variables are rarely cited in studies on fluency but are arguably an important facet of pause phenomena especially if one considers research in sociolinguistics and the integral role that context plays in language production.

2.3.1. Speech Rate Speech rate in general terms is the ratio of speech output in x units per unit of time. In research, this rate is reported as either syllables per second or words per minute. As noted by Chambers (1997), the rate of speech in any given speech sample is a measure of both articulation rate, usually expressed in syllables per second, and pause time. In this way, speech rates are highest when a speaker utters a relatively high number of syllables per second and spends relatively little time pausing. As the frequency and/or length of pauses

22 increases, the speech rate will be reduced. Due to the correlation of speech rate and pausing, Goldman-Eisler includes speech rate in the inventory of pause phenomena variables. As noted by Griffiths (1991), the literature generally supports this position. At the same time, speech rate in its own right has been the subject of numerous studies on native and non-native production of speech (Blau, 1990; Chaudron, 1988; Derwing, 1990; Flaherty, 1979; Harvey, 1984; Lehtonen, 1981; Pica, 1988; Wesche & Ready, 1985; Zhou, 1997), and the unique issues it presents warrant discussion in this chapter. Speech rate-related variables cited in the literature include articulation rate (Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Mohle, 1984; Raupach, 1980b; van Gelderen, 1994); mean length of rundefined as the average number of syllables uttered between pause boundaries (Hieke, 1985; Kormos & Denes, 2004; Mohle, 1984; Raupach, 1980b); mean length of utterancedefined as the average number of words spoken per utterance (Kemper, Othick, Gerhing, Gubarchuk, & Billington, 1998; Mohle, 1984); phonation time ratiodefined as the total time spend speaking divided by the total time spent to produce the speech sample (Kormos & Denes, 2004; Riggenbach, 1991; Towell, Hawkins et al., 1996); and speech rate defined as the average number of words spoken per second (Derwing, 1990). An important question related to speech rate and fluency is what is a normal or ideal speech rate? According to Levelt (1989), speech is usually produced at a rate of two to three words per second (p.22) and Kowal and OConnell (1980) refer to a normal rate of 3.50 syllables per second (p.64). But studies of speech rate in the literature present a more complicated picture. In a comparative study of Finnish, English, and Swedish speakers speaking their native languages, Lehtonen (1981) concluded, there is no single normal speech rate (p.331) and argued that acceptable speech rate depends on the context of the utterance. This argument is supported by research conducted by Grosjean and Deschamps (1975) and cited in Raupach (1980a) in which the authors found that the French native speaking rate was significantly lower in elicited cartoon

23 descriptions than in samples from radio interviews. Mohle (1984) arrived at a similar conclusion comparing the speech rates of French and German L1 and L2 speakers across two different language taskscartoon descriptions and answering questions. Evidence that speech rate varies across languages is also presented in the literature. Raupach (1980b), for example, found the speech rate of native French speakers to be significantly lower than that of German speakers, and Lehtonen (1981) reported that the articulation rate of Finnish is faster than that of English due to the phonological simplicity of the Finnish syllables (p.329). Wiese (1984), however, found no significant speech rate differences when comparing speech samples from native speakers of English and German.

2.3.2. Repair Phenomena Self-repair is a broad category of speech production phenomena that includes variables such as repetitions, re-starts, false starts, and cutoffs. Grosjean (1980) classifies these variables as hesitation phenomena and notes that although they do not immediately relate to what has traditionally been understood as temporal variables (e.g., variables related to speech rate and pausing), they have become a significant component in speech production research. A rationale for including these variables is presented by Raupach (1980) who argues that the study of pause distribution in speech should include all available hesitation phenomena that work directly on the percentage of pause time in speech performance (p.270). And Mohle (1984) argues such phenomena occur regularly . . . in foreign and native language production and are important factors in the study of language-planning processes (p.44). Although the use of these variables in language production research may be helpful overall, their application in fluency research has come with mixed results. Riggenbach (1991) found that repair phenomena such as retraced restarts (restarting an utterance by using some of the original utterance),

24 repetitions, insertions, and unretraced restarts (restarting an utterance using none of the original utterance) were not statistically significant in distinguishing levels of fluency among non-native speakers of English. Similarly, Kormos and Denes (2004) did not find these variables, classified by the authors as disfluencies, to be significantly correlated with level of fluency. They cite research in Rekart and Dunkel (1992) and van Gelderen (1994) as supportive of their findings. Olynyk, D'Anglejan et al. (1987) also found that repair-related variables were not useful in distinguishing between fluency levels. However, Rehbein (1987) in a qualitative study of three non-native speakers of German, found that fluent sounding speakers used repair strategies as a strategic counterbalance to compensate for deficiencies in fluent production (p.101).

2.4. Empirical Research on Fluency An important question in fluency research relates to which temporal variables most strongly correlate with fluent and / or dysfluent language production. While Sajavaara and Lehtonen (1978) and Lehtonen (1981) maintain that the testing of fluent speechin the broad senseis not possible by means of instrumental method (p.331), other authors such as Hieke (1985) and Chambers (1997) have argued for research that incorporates this form of measurement. Early work by Fillmore (1979) and Cole (1980) represent preliminary efforts in this regard. Since that time, a number of empirical studies have provided insight into which temporal variables are most useful for assessing fluency in second language speech production. A review of these studies and their results generally support Hiekes early observation: speech rate remains the most significant and practical quantitative measure of oral proficiency since it is capable of significantly differentiating native from nonnative speech (p.139). Lehtonen (1981) compared the articulation rate, speech rate, and pause ratio among three groups of English speakers: six native English speakers, 14 English L2 students at the intermediate level, and 44 English L2 students at the

25 lowest proficiency level. The author found both pause ratio and speech rate to be correlated with fluency level when examining the recorded samples of free speech. Interestingly, the rate of speech of the high level university L2 speakers surpassed that of the native English speakersa finding that the author concludes may be due to the fact that the native speakers were all English teachers and may have been accustomed to speaking at a slower rate in order for students to understand them. The author concluded that while speech rate is a useful way of measuring fluency differences between different levels of speakers of the same language, it may not be so reliable when comparing speakers of different languages since speech rate in L2 may be effected by syllabification patterns of the native language. Lennon (1984) compared the speech samples of L2 English speakers retelling a story in English with the speech sample of the model native English story teller. The study found that the L2 speakers spoke at a slower rate than the model (131 average WPM vs 152 for the native speaker) and with a higher rate of pausing (44% mean vs 36% mean) with differences also being detected in the location of the pauses. Rhode (1985) collected two-minute speech samples from eight Danish speakers of English and asked a panel of 19 native English speakers to assign a global fluency rating to each of the samples. Four of the speech samplesone from each fluency levelwere then selected for in-depth analysis at the temporal variable level. After comparing the temporal variable data with the global fluency ratings, the author concluded that filled pauses were the best indicator of disfluency whereas successful false startscases in which a sentence broke down and then was restarted successfullywere the best indicator of compensatory fluency. An obvious limitation in the study, however, was the small sample size which made it impossible to determine if the findings were statistically significant. Olynyk, D'Anglejan et al. (1987) compared the French L1 and English L2 speech of 10 college students in Quebec, five of whom had been judged as

26 having high fluency in English and five as having low proficiency in English. Speech samples were comprised of the students self-recorded speech in three different contexts. The five-minute samples from each context were analyzed for six speech marker variablesuhs, repeats, transitions, repair, conversions, and cut-offsand comparisons were made between the native and second language performance. While the authors found that there was considerable transfer of speech marker use from the first to the second language, they found no significant differences between the high and low fluency groups in terms of the frequency with which the markers were used. Lennon (1990) examined the oral English performance of four German students studying abroad in England. At two points in their semester abroad, the students were asked to complete a language task in which they were shown a set of six pictures and then asked to tell the story behind the picture sequence. The recorded sets of responses were then played to a panel of nine native English speaking judges who were asked to provide global fluency ratings for each speech sample and to judge if fluency improvement had been made between the first and second observations. The same pairs of speech samples were analyzed across 12 temporal variables to determine which of them correlated with gains made in fluency between the first and second observations. After comparing the pretest and posttest group means on each measure, Lennon found that the t values were significant for the variables 1) Pruned Words Per Minute, 2) Filled Pauses Per T-Unit, and 3) Percent of T-Units Followed by a Pause, with all four participants demonstrating gains on the first two variables. Riggenbach (1991) made quantitative comparisons between six speech samples that had been pre-rated for fluency by a group of trained raters. The speech samples, consisting of five-minute recorded homework assignments, were collected and analyzed for variables related to pausing, rate of speech, and self-repair. The author found that rate of speech and unfilled pauses were the only two variables that correlated with the raters fluency scores. A problem with the design of this study is that the student participants were from different

27 classes and the assigned dialogue topics were not identical across the participants. This factor combined with the small sample size probably contributed to the authors trouble in finding variables that were of statistical significance. Freed (1995) compared the holistic fluency ratings assigned to 15 American L2 speakers of French who had studied abroad for a semester in France with the ratings assigned to a comparable group of students who had not studied abroad. The speech samples from four students in each group were then analyzed at the temporal variable level. Comparisons between the two groups at the holistic fluency level indicated that the students who had studied abroad made greater gains in fluency than the students who had remained in the US. At the temporal variable level, the study found that rate of speech was the only statistically significant variable that distinguished between the two groups the study abroad students uttering more words in the samples at a faster rate. Towell, Hawkins et al. (1996) examined speech samples from 12 nonnative speakers of French at three different points in their course of study, six months of which was spent studying abroad in French speaking country. After analyzing the data across the four variables of speaking rate, phonation time ratio, articulation rate, and mean length of run, the authors found that mean length of run (MLR) was the best indicator of the development of fluency in performing this particular exercise (p. 103). Riazantseva (2001) examined speech samples from 30 Russian speakers of English who had been separated into intermediate and high proficiency groups. The two speech samplesa topic narrative and a cartoon description were analyzed for pause duration, pause frequency, and pause distribution (within or outside of constituent boundaries). Results were compared between the two proficiency groups. The author found that the high proficiency speakers used shorter and fewer pauses but that the distribution of pauses was not related to the level of proficiency.

28 Kormos & Denes (2004) also compared data on temporal variables against fluency ratings given by a panel of judges to understand which underlying variables affect perception of fluency. Speech samples from 16 Hungarian speakers of English were analyzed across 10 variables. Five of the variables speech rate, phonation time ratio, mean length of run, mean length of pauses, and number of stressed words per minutewere found to correlate with level of fluency. Based on their findings, the authors concluded that differences in fluency scores can be attributed largely to a small group of variables including intonation features (defined as stressed words per minute) but excluding filled and unfilled pauses. While the above studies have employed a wide range of variables, rate of speech is the measure most frequently cited for its correlation with overall gains in fluency. The rate and duration of pauses appears to be another important variable, although it is not clear whether filled pauses, unfilled pauses, or both should be considered. Meanwhile, mean length of speech run (MLR) is a variable that has received more recent attention. Although relatively few studies have employed this measure to date, the available data suggests that it is a reliable indicator of fluency improvement. Finally, it should be noted that the majority of the studies were very small in size with only two of the 10 studies reporting a sample size of 30 or larger. Unfortunately, this factor makes it difficult to determine with any degree of certainty which variables are the most reliable and significant indicators of fluency. As discussed earlier, current advances in technology may help to alleviate this problem by making it easier for researchers to gather and analyze data on larger groups of participants.

2.5. Theories of Fluency Much of the theoretical research on fluency is rooted in the discipline of psycholinguistics. Fluency from a psycholinguistic perspective is viewed as a function of how linguistic information is stored in the brain and how that

29 information is then processed in human communication. McLaughlin, Rossman, and McLeod make the connection as they state the hallmarks of automatic processing are increased speed and reallocated attention (p.154). An early and frequently cited study is Shiffrin and Schneider (1977a) in which participants were found to perform much better at a letter identification task when they were able to base their responses on a previous set of learned information. The researchers proposed that automatic processing is more efficient and less effortful because it involves certain responses that always become active under certain inputs. Controlled processing, however, requires more attention and is less efficient because stimulus nodes in the memory have not yet been established. The focus on the cognitive processes that effect fluency development can be attributed in large part to the work of Levelt (1989) who developed a model for speech production (see Figure 1.1 in Chapter 1). Although this model was conceptualized with the native speaker in mind, it has been employed by a number of researchers to explain second language production (de Bot, 1992; Payne & Whitney, 2002; Towell, Hawkins et al., 1996). Levelt views language production as occurring in a series of three modular stages: conceptualization, formulation, and articulation. In the conceptualization stage, the speaker first determines the semantic content of what she or he wants to say and then generates a preverbal message. At this first stage, there are no lexical items or grammatical structures associated with the message but only a conceptual outline of what is to be said. The next stage occurs in the formulator in which semantic and morphophonological information is applied to the preverbal message and the appropriate lexical items are selected. All of the linguistic information that the speaker needs for formulating the message is stored in what Levelt refers to broadly as the lexicon, an independent module that can be accessed at either the formulation or comprehension stages of communication.

30 After a phonetic plan has been generated by the formulator, the speaker can either articulate the message via the articulator or internally scan and evaluate the message (as internal speech) in his or her speech comprehension systemconceived by Levelt as yet another independent module. Finally, in the articulation stage, the articulator takes the phonetic plan generated by the formulator and puts it into actual speech via activation of the lungs and other speech organs. Along with Levelts model, a number of other theories have been proposed to explain the cognitive processes that underlie fluent communication. Schmidt (1992) reviews seven theories related to fluency that are presented in the psychological literature. A brief summary of each of these theories is presented below: 1) Automatic and controlled processing theory (Shiffrin & Schneider, 1977b) maintains that automatic skills are fast, effortless, and do not require the use of short-term memory, whereas controlled processing is comparatively slow and requires effort and introspection on the part of the subject. Fluency under this theory is viewed as automatic processingthe necessary linguistic knowledge having become automatized for the speaker; 2) ACT * (pronounced act star) theory (Anderson, 1983) explains skill development as a process of information going from declarative to procedural memory. At the declarative stage, the learner can state the rule, but it is not until the information has become proceduralized that the information becomes embedded with a specific use of the information; 3) Executive control theory (Bialystok, 1982) explains L2 fluency development as a process of increased control over linguistic knowledge as implicit knowledge becomes more explicit over time. A fluent language speaker in this framework is one who has command over the relevant linguistic information and is able to manipulate this knowledge in a way that appears effortless; 4) Restructuring theory (Cheng, 1985; McLaughlin, 1990) argues that rather than information processing become better (or automatic), information retrieval

31 improves when the process is reorganized so as to be more efficient. This theory might explain improvement in fluency as due to a shift in how the language user processes the language. 5) Instance theory (Logan, 1988) explains automaticity as a function of memory retrieval and reaction time. The more instances an item is retrieved from memory, the quicker the reaction time becomes. Schmidt notes that this theory supports the work of Pawley and Syder (1983) who view native fluency as a result of native speakers building up large numbers of memorized word sequences or lexical sentence stems. 6) Strength theory (MacKay, 1982) views automaticity as taking place when connections between stimulus and response are strengthened. Although strength model studies have been limited to investigations of syntactic accuracy, it is presumed that in regard to fluency, strengthening would take place, bottomup, through the practice of language tasks. As Schmidt notes, this theory has some resemblance to the audiolingual approach which claimed that language tasks had to be learned and practiced in a specific order beginning with those at a lower level and movie to higher levels. 7) Chunking theory (Newell, 1990; Servan-Schreiber & Anderson, 1990) claims that information is learned in chunks and that language creativity is largely based on new uses or configurations of already learned chunks. This theory closely relates to the ideas proposed by Pawley and Syder (1983) and others regarding the function of lexical sentence stems. While all of these theories are relevant to second language fluency, three of themShiffrin and Schneiders theory of automatic and controlled processing, Andersons ACT* theory, and chunking theoryalong with Levelts model of speech production have received the widest attention in second language research. Scholars have invoked various combinations of these theories to explain fluency at both the both the broad and narrow level. McLaughlin (1980) makes a case for applying human processing theory in language research, arguing that the theory is more useful than Krashens Monitor

32 Model since it is based on behavioral acts, not on inner states of consciousness (p.294). McLaughlin et al (1983) subsequently apply the theory of automatic processing to explain why second language learners may have difficulty carrying on a conversation in the second language even when they know all of the words and grammatical structures to complete the task. The authors argue such individuals cannot handle at one time the two competing demands of maintaining the flow of conversation and speaking accurately in a formal sense (p.146). However, when the information has become automatic for the learner, the burden of carrying out such a task is greatly reduced and hence the speech becomes more fluent. Towell (1987) applies both the ACT* theory and the controlled vs automatic processing theory to explain how advanced language learners process language. The author examines longitudinal data consisting of transcribed speech samples from language learners at consecutive years in their language study program. Towel uses four temporal variables (speaking rate, phonation time ratio, mean length of utterance, and articulation rate) as evidence that the learners knowledge of language structures moves from declarative to procedural, and that the processing (e.g. production) of language moves from controlled to automatic. Perhaps the most important point that Towell makes is that competence (including both declarative and proceduralized knowledge) and performance (including both controlled and automatic processes) are interrelated concepts, and both must be considered when examining how second language learners develop fluency. Another approach to fluency that has gained widespread attention in research is chunking theory. This theory focuses on lexical units that have been referred to as lexical sentence stems, prefabricated phrases, lexical chunks, lexical phrases, and formulaic language. In a formative and frequently cited work on the subject, Pawley and Syder (1983) define a lexicalized sentence stem as a unit of clause length or longer whose grammatical form and lexical content is wholly or largely fixed (p.191). They argue that native speakers have a

33 memorized repertoire of thousands of sentence stems and that use of these stems is a central facet of fluent sounding speech: Indeed, we believe that memorized sentences and phrases are the normal building blocks of fluent spoken discourse, and at the same time, that they provide building blocks of fluent spoken discourse (p.208). The authors also present the case for a speech strategy referred to as chaining style in which fluent sounding speakers string together multiple sentence stems in an almost automatic fashion. Schmitt (2000) summarizes the psycholinguistic connection between lexical stems and fluency: The mind makes use of a relatively abundant resource (long-term memory) to compensate for a relative lack in another (processing capacity) by storing a number of frequently needed lexical chunks as whole units. These can be easily retrieved and used without the need to compose them on-line through word selection and grammatical sequencing. This means there is less demand on cognitive capacity, because the lexical chunks are ready to go, and require little or no additional processing. (p. 400) Elements of chunking theory are employed by Rehbein (1987) to explain data from a qualitative study that compared speech samples from native and nonnative speakers of German and Turkish. An analysis of these samples indicated that the native speakers used formulaic language to their advantagecreating an overall impression of fluency. Yet Rehbein also makes the important point that speech formulae can hinder fluency if the speaker utters runs of unbroken speech without giving attention to what segments sound natural together. In summary, human information processing theories are useful in understanding fluency phenomena at both the broad level of overall proficiency and the narrow level of specific temporal variables. At the broad level, an L2 learners development of fluency can be explained as the reallocation of attention from the correct use of grammatical rules to a focus on content and meaning. This framework also explains why highly proficient language speakers perform

34 exponentially better on oral exams: Because the underlying knowledge of language rules has become automatic for these individuals, they are able to devote considerable more attention to hallmark features of a native speech performance in their presentations. For example, interesting asides, idiomatic expressions, humor, and clever self-corrections are all possible when less attention is needed to accomplish the basic language requirements of the task. At the focused level, a theory of automatic processing also helps to explain the temporal features of fluency discussed earlier. Since controlled processing requires more attention, it follows that a language learner with lower proficiency will need to speak at a slower rate with longer and more frequent pauses than a learner with higher proficiency for whom language rules have become proceduralized. The link between impressionistic variables, such as effort and smoothness, and temporal variables is also realized under this theory. Because, by definition, automatic processes require less attentional effort and controlled processes require more, it follows that the oral delivery of a lowproficiency L2 speaker will seem relatively effortful and that the delivery of a language learner with higher proficiency will seem relatively effortless. Slow speaking rate, pauses, and short run of speech may all be viewed as overt signals of an underlying process indicating either automatic or controlled information processing.

2.6. Teaching Fluency The question of how fluency can be facilitated in the L2 classroom is a perennial question with numerous articles and books having been published on the subject. Much of the discussion has approached fluency through the communicative competence paradigmviewing fluency as an overall ability to communicate in the target language. For example, Brumfit (1984) describes fluency instruction as that which focuses on communicating a message rather than producing accurate linguistic forms. He states: language work focused

35 predominantly on language is always accuracy work, however fluently it may be performed, whereas language work which entails using the target language as if it is a mother tongue is always fluency work (p.53). And in another work on communicative language teaching, Brumfit (1979) argues more forcibly for fluency (vs accuracy) instruction by stating language teaching needs to concentrate far more on the concept of fluency in order to restore a genuine educational perspective to its aims (p.189). As noted by Richards and Rodgers (1986) this distinction between fluency and accuracy is an important principle of communicative language teachingas are the distinctions between meaning / form and use / usage. While Berns (1990) and others emphasize that communicative language teaching is a general approach involving many possible methods, fluency instruction within a communicative teaching framework often involves task-based learning methods. Richards (2002) plainly states, A core component of fluencybased pedagogy is task work (p.36). And in an early work, Johnson (1979) goes so far as to argue that fluency in communicative process can only develop within a task-oriented teachingone which provides actual meaning by focusing on tasks to be mediated through language. . . (p.200). In recent years, much has been written on the usefulness of task-based teaching methods for improving both fluency and accuracy (Ellis, 2003; Skehan, 1996; Skehan & Foster, 1997; Ur, 1981) While there are many methodologies within the task-based approach, the underlying assumption is that fluency and accuracy are best developed through meaning-focused (vs form-focused) communication tasks. This assumption, however, is challenged by Swan (2005) who devotes an entire book to refuting the task-based approach and emphasizes that there is little empirical evidence to support it. Alternatives to task-based fluency teaching can be found within the human information processing framework. Unlike those in the communicative teaching paradigm, these methods tend to be form-focused in nature with an emphasis on specific language features (e.g. rate of speech, pausing, vocabulary) and

36 behavioral learning strategies (e.g. repetitions and drills). Because fluency in this discipline is understood in terms of measurable, temporal variables, it is not surprising that much of the research on the subject of teaching fluency is rooted in experimental studies that examine the effectiveness of one or more approaches. Nation (1989) examined the use of the 4/3/2 techniqueone that involves giving a presentation repeatedly at succeeding shorter timer intervalswith a group of six advanced level language learners to determine whether the technique is helping for improving speaking fluency. Fluency in the study was measured in a focused manner by rate of speech (words per minute), false starts, filled pauses, and repeated words and in the broader sense by examining accuracy and control of content. The study found that in seven of the eight cases, the rate of speech increased between the first and third presentation, and the number of false starts, filled pauses, and repeated words decreased for all of the cases. More modest improvements were noted in the areas of accuracy and content. In similar veins, Brown (2000) cites research indicating the usefulness of repetition and recycling of activities, Foster and Skehan (1997) cite the usefulness of pre-task planning, and Temple (1994) points to the potential of mimicking activities for contributing to fluency development in L2 learners. Yet another approach to fluency instruction is the lexical approach (Baigent, 1999; House, 1996; Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992; Willis, 1990; Woolard, Summer 2004). Rooted in the theory of lexical chunking, this approach is largely attributed to Lewis (1993; 1997a; 1997b; 2000), and is based on two frequently quoted principles from an early work: language consists of grammaticalized lexis, not lexicalised grammar and grammar as structure is subordinate to lexis (Lewis, 1993, p.89). In the classroom, these ideas are implemented in methods such as looking for lexical groups in reading passages, brainstorming for collocates of key words, guessing the meanings of words from context, and using concordancers to search for (and memorize) collocations that occur in natural speech.

37 Harwood (2002) discusses several limitations of the lexical approach. These include the difficulty of sifting through corpora data to find the appropriate items to use in the class; the challenge of adapting naturalistic data for use in the classroom; and the potential of overwhelming students with too much lexical information. Harwood cites Thornbury (1998) in claiming that the lexical approach is still a work in progress and due to practical limitations has yet to be widely adapted in the classroom. This, along with the fact that there have been no empirical studies to date on the effect of the lexical approach on fluency development, makes the impact of the approach seem limited at best.

2.7. Computer Assisted Language Learning and Fluency The focus of the current study is the potential of text-based Internet chats for improving the oral fluency of second language learners, and thus a review of the related body of literature on CALL (computer assisted language learning) is warranted in this chapter. While the research that has been conducted on CALL is too vast for even a cursory review, the following section will outline the main areas that have been addressed in the literature and then provide a more comprehensive review of the research that has been conducted specifically on fluency. The proliferation of computers in second language teaching is evidenced by the hundreds of ESL software programs available in any given ESL catalogue that claim to help learners improve their English at nearly every skill level. Even pronunciation which has traditionally been viewed as one of the least computerfriendly areas is now being addressed, thanks to the improvement of voice recognition technology and increasingly sophisticated programs that enable computers to make attempts at artificial intelligence. ESL websites are another facet of the recent advances in CALL. A visit to Daves ESL Cafa clearinghouse for dozens of ESL websitesreveals the profusion of on-line materials that is now available to ESL/EFL learners. Like the software programs,

38 many of these websites offer support in a range of language learning skills with grammar and listening websites being the most prevalent. As off-line and on-line computer support continues to develop, there is a growing body of research that discusses the potential value and possible applications of these modes of learning. For example, research has addressed the way in which computer technology can raise the status of the ESL learner in the learning process (Markley, 1998; Sullivan, 1998; Warschauer, Turbee, & Roberts, 1996); the nature of discourse in the computer mediated ESL classroom (Bloch, 2002; Darhower, 2002; Kelm, 1992; Sotillo, 2000); the potential of computer applications in a distance education environment (Opp-Beckman, 2002; Swaffar, Romano, Markley, & Arens, 1998; Wat-Aksorn, 2000; Ypsilandis, 2002); learner interaction with CALL software (Giardini & Vergaro, 1998; Hamilton, 1998; Hegelheimer & Tower, 2004); benefits of E-mail (Holliday, 1997; Stockwell & Harrington, 2003); and various applications of computer and web technology in the ESL classroom (Allodi, Dokter, & Kuipers, 1997; Bush & Terry, 1997; Dudeney, 2000; Gitsaki & Taylor, 1999; Goodfellow & Lamy, 1998; Reynard, 2003; Vitanova, 2000; Warschauer & Whittake, 1997). While the research sheds light on the utility of computer technology in the ESL classroom, most studies stop short of evaluating the effectiveness of these tools in terms of learner outcomes. Although scholars and practitioners agree that computer technology adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the language classroom, few understand exactly what that special element is and whether or not it adds anything to the process of second language acquisition. In the field of distance education, the no difference finding has been so frequently reported in side-by-side outcome studies that educators frequently publicize the claim that on-line study is an equivalent alternative to face-to-face classes. But such findings are not so assuring within the broader context of CALL. Since CALL in many cases is not a substitute but rather an add-on to traditional modes of learning, one should question the wisdom of pouring vast sums of money into

39 these resources if, in fact, these technologies do not lead to some measurable difference in learner performance. One area that has received very little attention is the usefulness of textbased Internet chats for improving ESL proficiency; this in spite of the fact that most ESL distance learning websites now contain an on-line chat component that students are encouraged to use. In a typical text-based chat room, participants communicate with each other in real time by typing messages on their personal computers. As soon as a message has been typed and sent, it is instantly displayed on the computer monitors of all of the other participants in the group. In such a format, communication takes place simultaneously with multiple members composing, reading, and replying to messages at the same time. In many cases, these chat rooms are informal and even unstructured with the members being allowed to enter, exit, and choose topics at will. While some chat discussions are lead by an instructor who plays the role of facilitator and gives feedback on various questions, it is more common for ESL chat rooms to be run by the students themselves in a type of English hour format. While it could be argued that the main purpose of these chats is not to develop second language proficiency but rather to create a sense of community between learners and instructors, it should not be overlooked that these chats are often the only form of real communication that takes place in the on-line classroom. Wang and Sun (2001) maintain that real-time Internet technology brings the distance learner into the real world and represents a new era in history of distance education (p.555). Hence, it would make sense to investigate the measurable benefits that come from this technology and whether there are any similarities between on-line communication and the communication that takes place in the traditional face-to-face language classroom. Several studies have compared the classroom participation of ESL students in on-line and face-to face environments. Warschauer (1997) found that there was more equality of participation between high and low proficiency learners in an on-line ESL course and that the language used was grammatically

40 more complex that that in the off-line course. Students in the on-line course also indicated greater overall satisfaction with the electronic discussion (e.g. Internet chat) environmenta greater percentage indicating that they could express themselves freely and a smaller percentage indicating that they felt stressed when participating. In another study, Banitz and Hendrickx (2003) investigated turn-taking behavior and the use of back channels (e.g. okay, yeah, uhuh) to compare Internet chat and face-to-face conversations of three participants. The authors found that the two environments were overall very similar across measures and concluded that Internet chats might actually represent an alternative to teaching a long distance EFL speaking class (p.193). In a similar vein, Chun (1998) examined the on-line chat transcripts of German language students (n=14) over the period of one year. The author explored features such as number and length of turns, grammatical complexity, and the number and types of different discourse structures represented in the transcripts. Chun found that the student interactions were substantial both in quality and quantity and were similar across most measures to what had been observed in face-to-face classrooms. One exception is that student discussions in the on-line learning environments were less teacher-centered and more student-initiated than discussions in face-to-face language classrooms. Chenoweth and Murday (2003) compared the language improvement of French L2 students in an on-line (Internet chat) course (n=8) with a comparable group of students in a face-to-face course (n=12). Measures were collected in oral and written production along with listening and reading comprehension and grammar. The authors found that were no statistical differences in language gains on any of the measures with the exception of the writing measure on which the on-line students made greater gains than the off-line students. Payne and Whitney (2002) compared the oral proficiency development of ESL students in two experimental on-line groups (n=13; n=11) with that of two comparable groups in a traditional face-to-face class (n=17; n=17). Students in the experimental group spent half of the course hours interacting in a text-based

41 Internet chat room (six students per room) and the other half in the traditional classroom setting. Speaking proficiency in this study was measured by a holistic test in which participants were asked to give a five-minute response to a written prompt. The recorded response was then judged by a panel of trained raters. At the end of the study, the pretest to posttest gain scores were averaged and compared across groups. The authors found that students in the on-line group made significantly higher gains in oral proficiency than the students in the faceto-face group (p<.05) with the on-line group having an average gain score of 9.82 points and the face-to-face group having an average gain score of 11.76 points. These results were attributed to the higher amount of participation in the chat rooms and the fact that most of the students subvocalized the written language that they produced in the rooms. The study also relied heavily on Levelts theory of language processing: Based on Levelts model of language production, synchronous online conferencing in a second language should develop the same cognitive mechanisms that are needed to produce the target language in face-to-f ace L2 conversation. In fact, the only difference from an information processing perspective should be engaging the musculature to produce overt speech. (p.15)

2.8. Summary A review of the literature reveals two main approaches to fluencythe broad approach and the focused approach with the focused approach being most widely used in psycholinguistic research. This is due to the fact that the temporal measures associated with the focused approach lend themselves to empirical studies. While a host of temporal-related variables have been employed to measure fluency, speech rate (e.g. words or syllables per minute) and the related variable of mean length of run (MLR) have been most prevalently used in recent fluency studies. At the same time, the theory of controlled vs

42 automatic processing and Levelts theory of language processing have dominated much of the discussion and seem to work well for explaining observed fluency development in second language learners. Much of the discussion of teaching fluency has come from within the discipline of communicative language teaching. This is due to the fact that 1) the communicative approach has been the dominant L2 pedagogical model for the past three decades, and 2) the communicative model lends itself to activities that engender observed fluency. Other approaches to teaching fluency such as repetition or drill-oriented activities have received less attention, although these activities lend themselves to empirical assessment and tend to receive wider support within psycholinguistic research. The lexical approach to fluency teaching has also gained popularity in the last 10 years and is also closely related to psycholinguistic theory on chunking and working memory. But empirical research on the effectiveness of the lexical approach is almost nonexistentmost likely because of the logistical and pedagogical challenges of designing such a study. Finally, the area of computer assisted language teaching has become a very popular topic of research over the past 10 years with entire journals being devoted to the subject. The research has explored numerous applications of CALL and has established that CALL environments have an observable and positive impact on learner-subject and learner-learner interaction. Only a few studies, however, have focused on the usefulness of CALL for facilitating oral English proficiency, and to this authors knowledge, no studies to date have examined the usefulness of synchronous chats for improving oral fluency as measured by temporal variablesthis in spite of the fact that nearly all on-line ESL courses make use of a text-based chat component. With the above in mind, the current study contributes to the existing research on fluency and CALL by 1) examining the potential of text-based Internet chats for improving oral fluency; 2) further exploring the usefulness of Levelts model of language production and the theory of automatic processing for

43 explaining fluency development in the classroom setting; and 3) building on previous studies that have used temporal variables for measuring second language fluency.

44

CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY

3.1. Overview of the Experimental Design An overview of the experimental design is presented in Figure 3.1. The study examined the fluency gain scores of ESL participants who were randomly assigned to one of three different instructional environments: a text-based Internet chat environment, a face-to-face environment, and a control environment in which the students completed on-line activities but did not interact with either the instructor or the students. Each group participated in 12 class sessions over a period of six weeks. A fluency pretest was administered a week before instruction began, and a fluency posttest was administered a week after instruction ended. Gain scores were calculated by subtracting pre scores from post scores. Upon completion of the posttest, participants were asked to respond to an exit survey that focused on their perceptions of the instructional environment.

3.2. Recruitment and Screening of Participants Forty-eight participants were recruited for the study and a total of 34 participants completed all stages of the study from beginning to end. Recruitment methods included 1) posting fliers (Appendix A) around two apartment complexes each with a large number of international residents; 2) distributing fliers (via instructors) to students taking English classes in the Purdue Village ESL school; 3) distributing fliers (via instructors) to students in the Purdue

45

Recruitment and Screening of Participants

Random Assignment of Participants to Groups

Participant Orientation

Pretest of Fluency

Instructional Intervention Internet Chat Group n=16 Instruction 6 Weeks / 12 Units Before Class (Online) Participants listen to assigned news passage and complete vocabulary activities. During Class (Text Internet Chat) Participants and instructor meet together to review new vocabulary and

Instructional Intervention Face-to-Face Group n=16 Instruction 6 Weeks / 12 Units Before Class (Online) Participants listen to assigned news passage and complete vocabulary activities. During Class (Face-to-Face) Participants and instructor meet together to review new vocabulary and

Instructional Intervention Control Group n=16 Instruction 6 Weeks / 12 Units For each unit, participants go on-line to listen to assigned news passage and complete vocabulary activities Before Class N/A During Class N/A

Posttest of Fluency

Exit Survey

Figure 3.1. Overview of Experimental Design

46 Oral English Proficiency Program; 4) posting a message on Purdue For Sale an electronic message board that advertises goods and services to the Purdue community; 4) sending an e-mail announcement to students enrolled in an ESL course that is offered in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and 6) making an announcement at a local community event attended by a large group of international residents. As an incentive, along with the six free weeks of language instruction, participants received written feedback on their English proficiency and a signed certificate upon completion of the course. Nearly 200 individuals responded either by telephone or e-mail to the announcements. The researcher replied to volunteers by conducting a follow-up / screening interview over the phone (see Appendix B). During the interview, the researcher gathered information related to the volunteers background (age, home country, and student status), proficiency in English, familiarity with using computers, and availability for taking the class during the scheduled dates. Volunteers who were not available during the designated dates or who had no prior computer experience were exempted from the study. To reduce the potential affect that the variable of English proficiency level would have on gains in fluency, the researcher conducted an informal screening of English proficiency during the phone interview by comparing the volunteers speaking ability against the holistic rating scale used for the TSE. Only those volunteers who were judged to be at an intermediate level of English (e.g. a 3 or 4 on the TSE scale) were considered eligible for the study. English performance at this level is characterized as understandable and sufficient to complete a task yet with hesitations and non-native features that either occasionally or consistently require effort on the part of the listener. After 48 volunteers were interviewed and selected, the researcher stopped the initial follow-up / screening process and randomly assigned each of the eligible volunteers to one of the three instructional groups. This process involved assigning a number (1-48) to each of the volunteers and using a random number

47 table to select volunteers into groups. For example, the first volunteer with a matching number was assigned to the Control group, the second to the Face-toFace group, the third to the Internet Chat group, the fourth to the Control group and so on until each participant had been assigned to one of the three groups. In two cases when a volunteer dropped out of the study prior to the start of the course, the researcher went back to the volunteer list and proceeded to conduct interviews until an eligible replacement was found. Dropouts were not replaced after course instruction began in order to prevent the introduction of an extraneous variablelength of participation.

3.3. Demographic Information Related to Participants Because 14 participants dropped out after the course began, the total number of participants in the study was reduced to 34. Table 3.1 presents the total number of participants in each group and summarizes their demographic information.

48 Table 3.1 Demographic Information on Participants in Each Experimental Group


Native Language Chinese: 6 German: 1 Japanese: 1 Polish: 1 Turkish: 1 Chinese: 8 Korean: 4 Arabic: 1 Polish: 1 Chinese: 6 Korean: 1 Spanish: 1 Japanese: 2 Student / Spouse

Group

Sex

Region Asia: 7 Europe: 2 Middle East: 1

Control N=10

Female: 8 Male: 2

Student: 4 Spouse: 6

Face-to-Face N= 14

Female: 10 Male 4:

Asia: 12 Europe: 1 Middle East: 1

Student: 5 Spouse: 9

Internet Chat N=10

Female: 8 Male: 2

Asia: 9 Latin America: 1

Student: 4 Spouse: 6

As indicated in Table 3.1, the Control Group and Internet Chat group each had 10 participants while the Face-to-Face Group had 14 participants. The three groups had roughly the same ratio of female to male students with the Control and Internet Chat groups each having 20 percent male and 80 percent female students and the Face-to-Face group having 29 percent male and 71 percent female students. The majority of participants in each group was from Asia and spoke Mandarin Chinese as a native language. The Control group had the widest representation of countries and languages with participants from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The Internet Chat group was the most homogeneous in this respect with nine participants from Asia and one student from Latin America. In terms of the student status of the participants, the three groups were comparable. Four of the 10 participants in both the Control and Internet Chat groups were enrolled in some form of coursework while five of the 14 participants in the Face-to-Face group were enrolled in coursework. The

49 remaining participants in each group were married to Purdue students but were not enrolled in classes themselveshence the label of spouse in the table.

3.4. Orientation After randomly assigning volunteers to groups, the researcher sent a course information packet to the prospective participants by e-mail attachment. (Appendix C - E). This packet contained 1) specific information about the course to which the volunteer had been assigned; 2) instructions on how to access the course materials on-line; and 3) a form on which the volunteer was asked to indicate preferred times for taking the pretest and the class. When a volunteer encountered difficulty in accessing the course materials on-line, the researcher worked with him or her either by phone or e-mail to resolve the problem. Nearly all of the problems and questions pertained to the software requirements of WebCT Vista and difficulties in downloading or enabling this software. After the course began, several participants encountered additional problems in accessing the chat room. These problems were again found to be related to the software requirements of the WebCT Vista platform and adjustments that needed to be made on the participants web browsers. The researcher worked with these participants on a case-by-case basis and the problems were resolved.

3.5. Pretest and Posttest The same procedures were followed for the pretest and posttest with the exception of administering a consent form at the pretest session and an exit survey at the posttest session. The technology, schedule, and procedure for the tests are described below: Technology: Both the pretest and posttest were administered on PCs in a reserved computer lab in Purdue Village. Each participant was given a headset with a built-in microphone for making the recording. Test responses were

50 collected as digital sound files using Microsoft Sound Recordera software program that is part of the Microsoft Windows package. Recording times were automatically limited to the 60 second default which is built into the recording software. At the end of the test session, the researcher saved the speech data in a designated folder in the researchers home directory. Schedule: Test sessions were scheduled at half-hour intervals. This allowed time for seating participants, administering consent forms, reviewing instructions, and answering questions related to the test prompt. The researcher had prepared for up to four participants to take the tests simultaneously. But as it worked out, no more than three participants were ever in the room at the same time, and since they arrived at different times, it was possible to work with each participant individually. Procedure: After seating the participant and allowing time for him or her to read and sign the consent from, the researcher explained the purpose of the test and gave general instructions for taking it. To prevent the participant from giving a rehearsed response, the researcher asked that he or she refrain from writing notes and emphasized that a response should be recorded as soon as the test prompt was understood. The researcher then gave a demonstration of the test procedures including how to speak into the microphone and which button to click to start recording a response. After answering questions, the researcher gave the participant a paper version of the test prompt (Appendix F & G) with the reminder that he or she should click on the record button and give a one-minute response when ready. After the participant had recorded a response, the researcher 1) checked to make sure that the recording had worked; 2) saved the response as a wave file; and 3) dismissed the participantthanking him or her for coming to the test.

51 3.6. Instructional Intervention The study was comprised of three instructional groupseach with a different type of interaction. Participants in the Face-to-Face group met with the instructor in a traditional classroom and used oral English to communicate with each other; participants in the Internet Chat group met together with the instructor in a WebCt Vista chat room and used typed messages to communicate with each other in real time; participants in the Control group did not interact with each other during the course but instead completed the required coursework independently. The same curriculum was used for all three groups in the 12-unit, 6-week course. For each unit, participants first logged onto the courses WebCT Vista website and listened to a news passage that had been selected from the Learning Resources website (HTTP://LITERACYNET.ORG/CNNSF/). Participants were then directed to review a list of new vocabulary items and complete a listening activity and vocabulary activity that accompanied the news passage. The vocabulary words were either taken directly from the news passage or were related to the topic. All of the vocabulary words were characterized as being 1) idiomatic, 2) common in everyday speech, and 3) the type of words whose meaning and usage would be difficult to grasp from a dictionary. For the Control group, the unit instruction stopped here. For the Face-toFace group and the Internet Chat group, the web instruction was followed by a class session in which the participants met together (either face to face or in a chat room) to review the new vocabulary and discuss the content of the news passage. The same instructor taught both groups of participants for the six-week period. The method of instruction for the Internet Chat group and Face-to-Face group is described below.

52 3.7. Instructional Method: Internet Chat group and Face-to-Face Group The Internet Chat group met in a synchronous, text-based, Internet chat room that was accessed through the WebCT Vista course website. One section met on Monday and Friday afternoons from 2:00pm - 3:00pm and the other section met on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 9:00pm - 10:00pm. The Face-to-Face Group met in a classroom in the Purdue Village ESOL center. One section met on Monday and Friday afternoons from 4:00 - 5:00pm and the other section met on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:00pm 8:00pm. All 12 class sessions for both instructional groups followed the format below. Warm-Up: During the first 10 minutes, the instructor welcomed participants as they arrived and encouraged participation by asking questions like How was your weekend?, What did you do today?, Have you had dinner yet?, etc. These types of informal questions proved to be useful in generating follow-up questions from other members of the class who had already arrived for the class. In both the Internet Chat group classes and the Face-to-Face group classes, the initial warm-up discussions became longer and livelier over the six weeks as participants became more familiar with each other. Vocabulary Review: In the second part of the class, students reviewed the new vocabulary words and expressions for the unit. In the Internet Chat group class, these words and expressions, along with their definitions, were displayed in the chat room window using the whiteboard tool that is part of WebCT vista. In the Face-to-Face group class, the instructor wrote this information on a dry erase board. To help participants gain experience in using the words, the instructor asked participants to take turns using these words in sentences. The Internet Chat group participants typed their sample sentences simultaneously while the Face-to-Face group participants took turns giving their sentences. In both cases, after participants gave their sample sentences, the instructor made comments and corrections where necessary.

53 Discussion: The third part of each class session consisted of an open discussion on the news passage topic. The discussion typically began with the instructor raising a question, but in some cases, the first question was posited by one of the participants. To prevent a series of yes / no responses, the instructor posited open ended questions that elicited more discourse. The Internet Chat group participants were encouraged to contribute their ideas spontaneously without concern for taking turns. This format allowed participants to continuously contribute to the chat room discussion but also required that they make connections between the disjointed comments flowing onto the screen. The Face-to-Face group classes followed a traditional format with participants taking turns to share their ideas. With both groups, the instructor made a point to call on the quieter members of the class when it seemed that only one or two participants were dominating the discussion. Conclusion: The final part of each class consisted of a short wrap-up time during which the instructor thanked the participants for coming, reminded them about the topic for the next class, and said goodbye. Participants in the Internet Chat group classes often lingered in the chat room for up to 30 minutes after being dismissed, while participants in the Face-to-Face group classes left the classroom with the instructor as soon as it finished.

3.8. Fluency Measures Five temporal measures of fluency were employed in this study. These measures were collected for the both the pretest and posttest samples of speech. Improvement of fluency on each measure was determined by subtracting the pretest score from the posttest score, the resulting value being the fluency gain score for that measure. In cases in which the posttest score for a measure was lower than the pretest score, the gain score was reported as a negative value.

54 1) Speaking Rate (SR) Reported as syllables per second. Calculated by

dividing the total number of syllables produced in the speech sample by the total length of timein seconds required to produce the speech sample (including pause time). 2) Phonation / time ratio (PTR) Reported as a decimal percentage. Calculated by dividing the total number of syllables produced in the speech sample (not including filled pause syllables) by the total time, in seconds, required to produce the speech sample (including pause time). 3) Articulation rate (AR) Reported as syllables per second. Calculated by dividing the total number of syllables produced in the speech sample by the amount of timein secondsrequired to produce those syllables (excluding pause time). 4) Mean Length of Run (MLR) Reported as a decimal number. Calculated by dividing the total number of syllables produced in the speech sample (excluding filled pauses) by the total number of runs produced in the speech sample. Note: A run is defined as a speech segment occurring between pauses of .25 seconds or greater. 5) Average Length of Pauses (ALP) Reported as a decimal number. Calculated by dividing the total length of pause time (both silent and filled) by the total number of pauses.

3.9. Speech Sample Analysis The pretest and posttest speech samples were analyzed for fluency using PRAATa speech analysis software program that converts sound files into a three dimensional spectrogram and allows the researcher to transcribe and analyze very small segments of recorded speech. (Samples of the PRAAT editing windows are presented in Figure 3.2 and 3.3.) In the present study, the PRAAT software was especially useful for determining the specific time counter location of the onset and coda of the filled and unfilled pauses. After locating the

55 pause boundaries, it was a relatively simple matter to determine 1) the length of each pause (in seconds); 2) the number of syllables that had been uttered between the pauses; and 3) the length of phonation time (in seconds) between the pauses. Together, these data provided the necessary information for determining the value for each of the five measures of fluency described above.

3.10. Procedures for Locating Silent and Filled Pauses After opening the speech sample in the PRAAT software program, the researcher first selected the annotate function and created four tiers for data analysis: 1) Seconds Tierused for recording the number of seconds within each pause boundary; 2) Run Tier used for recording the text of each speech run; 3) Pause Tier used for recording the content of each filled pause (e.g. uhhh, ummm, errr); and 4) Syllable Tierused for recording the number of syllables uttered within each speech run. Next, the researcher opened the editing window and zoomed in by repeatedly pressing the in function button until 3.75 seconds of speech data were viewable on the spectrogram. Because the determination of the onset and coda of pauses can vary depending on the analysis resolution of the spectrogram, it was important to follow this exact step-in procedure with each speech sample in order to ensure reliability across speech samples. Figure 3.2 illustrates a typical view of a 3.75 second section of speech in the PRAAT editing window.

56

Figure 3.2. Sample view of 3.75 second segment of speech as displayed in the PRAAT editing window.

After opening the speech file in the appropriate view, the researcher proceeded to insert the silent and filled pause boundaries. This was done by viewing both the waveform and spectrogram windows and also by listening to the speech sample. Although the final analysis of data did not make a distinction between silent and filled pauses, the method of locating and marking the boundaries for each type was somewhat different, and thus the two processes are described separately below. Silent Pauses: The researcher first examined the waveform analysis window (see top window in Figure 3.2) which presents a two-dimensional graph of the fluctuation in air pressure (amplitude) on the y axis and the passing of time on the x axis. In this window, periods of silence can be readily observed by the absence of vertical striationsindicating little or low amounts of vocal energy. Conversely, periods of phonation can be detected through the presence of vertical striations. After determining the general location of a silent pause on the waveform, the researcher determined the approximate length of the pause by highlighting the region and checking the value on the corresponding time counter. Pauses that were near to or greater than .25 seconds in length were analyzed further while those that were obviously less than .25 seconds in length were ignored.

57 If the pause was near to or greater than .25 seconds, the researcher proceeded to determine the exact location of the pause boundaries by examining the spectrogram window (see bottom window in Figure 3.2). The spectrogram window provides a three dimensional representation of the frequency, amplitude, and temporal length of a speech sound. Because the formants (e.g., resonances) and corresponding frequencies are clearly depicted by shaded regions on the spectrogram, this window made it much easier to determine the precise location of the onset and coda of the silent pauses. After viewing the spectrogram and inserting the pause boundaries, the researcher played the selected pause region several times to confirm whether there was indeed no phonation in that period. In cases where the researcher detected phonation within the regionsuch as the nearly inaudible onset of an oncoming fricative or the prolonged phonation of a previous syllablethe researcher adjusted the pause boundaries accordingly. Before moving to the next pause region, the researcher confirmed the pause boundaries by listening once more to the selected pause region and the contiguous areas of phonation. Filled Pauses: Because filled pauses by definition involve phonation, they are harder to distinguish from the periods of productive speech on the waveform and spectrogram. Consequently, a slightly different procedure was followed to locate and mark the boundaries of these pauses. The researcher first determined the general location of the filled pauses by listening to the entire speech sample and inserting a rough boundary marker whenever a filled pause was detected. Silent pauses were generally ignored during this first pass because they could easily be detected by viewing the waveform. After making the locations of the filled pauses, the researcher determined the more precise boundaries by viewing the formants in the spectrogram. As demonstrated in Figure 3.3, there is a noticeable difference in the frequency and intensity level of filled pauses. In the case of the speech sample represented in Figure 3.3 the transition from the utterance new to the filled pause (ahh) is seen in the increased intensity of the filled pause (the formants become darker) and a

58

Figure 3.3. Sample of speech in PRAAT demonstrating the changes that occur in formants when shifting from a word segment to a filled pause.

change of the upper formant to a higher resonance frequency. By viewing the location of the formant frequency shift, the researcher was able to make a more precise determination of the of the onset of the pause. A similar strategy was followed for determining the coda of filled pauses in situations where there was continuous phonation between the end of the pause and the onset of meaningful speech. In cases when a pause contained combined periods of silence and phonation (e.g., Figure 3.3), the researcher classified it as a single filled pause because the distinction was not recognized in the final analysis of data.

3.11. Transcription of Data After inserting the pause boundaries, the researcher proceeded to transcribe the speech sample and enter the corresponding text and temporal data in the appropriate tier windows in PRAAT. The content of filled pauses was also recorded at this stage. In cases in which the speech sound(s) was unrecognizable, the researcher inserted a question mark (?) into the corresponding location in the text. One question mark (?) was inserted for each syllable. The researcher counted the number of syllables that occurred in each run of speech and entered this information in the corresponding tier level window. Finally, the time lengths of the pauses and speech run were also entered in the corresponding tier level windows.

59 3.12. Tabulation of Data Upon completing the analysis of the pretest and posttest samples of speech, the researcher proceeded to tabulate the data in an Excel spreadsheet. A separate Excel document was created for each participant and the pretest and posttest data were entered on two different worksheet pages within the document. Ten columns were created within each pagefive columns for entering the raw data (length of each pause, transcription of each speech run, syllable length of each speech run, second length of each speech run, total length of speech sample) and five columns corresponding to the five variables that were being measured. The researcher then used the mathematical functions within Excel to calculate the values for each of the five fluency variables. Finally, the research use the copy / paste functions to transfer the fluency data to a master spreadsheet containing the data for all of the participants. The data on the master spreadsheet was then read and analyzed by a statistical software program as described in the section below.

3.13. Statistical Procedures All data from the study were analyzed using the statistical software program SPSS. To determine whether gains in fluency were related to the instructional condition, a one-way ANOVA (analysis of variance) was performed. A one-way ANOVA is typically employed in experiments involving only one independent variable (hence one-way ANOVA), and is used to examine whether there is a significant difference between the mean scores of three or more groups on one dependent variable. Table 3.1 presents the five dependent variable measures that were analyzed by the one-way ANOVA procedures in the present study.

60 Table 3.2 Five Dependent Variables Analyzed Via One-Way ANOVA


One Independent Variable (Method of Instruction) Internet Chat Face-to-Face Control DV 1 Speaking Rate (SR) Mean SR Mean SR Mean SR DV 2 Phonation Time Ratio (PTR) Mean PTR Mean PTR Mean PTR DV 3 Articulation Rate (AR) Mean AR Mean AR Mean AR DV 4 Mean Length of Run (MLR) Mean MLR Mean MLR Mean MLR DV 5 Average Length of Pauses (ALP) Mean ALP Mean ALP Mean ALP

For each measure, an F-test was performed to test the null hypothesis that the means of the three treatment groups are all equal. F is a function of the ratio of variation due to the treatment effect among the groups over the expected variation due to error. The F value for each of the five ANOVAs was compared against a critical value which much be exceeded in order to claim statistical significance. Traditionally, this critical value would be found by referencing an F Distribution Table, but the value was readily obtained in the current study through an automated function in SPSS. The present study also employed Levines test to determine whether there was homogeneity of variance among the three experimental groupsa key assumption behind the ANOVA procedure. Although ANOVA is relatively robust with respect to violation of this assumption when the sample sizes are equal, the Ns in the present study were not equal and so Levines test was necessary to confirm the assumption. While an ANOVA is useful for determining if there is a significant difference between the means of three or more groups, it does not provide information on the direction of the variation. To determine which group benefited from a particular form of instruction, the current study incorporated planned, pairwise comparisons on each of the five fluency variables. Each of the planned comparisons was associated with a hypothesis that had been made at the offset

61 of the study. The hypotheses and the related pairwise comparisons are presented below. Hypothesis 1: Mean of the Internet Chat group is equal or greater to that of the Face-to Face Group. (Pairwise = Internet chat vs face-to-face) Hypothesis 2: Mean of the Face-to-Face Group is greater than that of the Control Group. (Pairwise = Face-to-Face vs Control) Hypothesis 3: Mean of the Internet Chat group is greater than that of the Face-to-Face Group. (Pairwise = Internet Chat vs Face-to-Face) Finally, effect size (ES) was calculated to determine the relative magnitude of the gains scores in each of treatment groups in comparison with scores observed in the Control group. The effect size for each variable was calculated by using the Cohens d equation: d = M1-M2 / . In this equation, M1 is the average score of the experimental group, M2 is the average score of the control group, and is the pooled standard deviation of the two groups.

3.14. Administration of Exit Surveys An exit survey was administered to each participant upon completion of the posttest at the end of the study (Appendix H - J). The purpose of the questionnaire was to gain insight into how each of the learning environments was perceived by the participants who engaged in the environment. In this way, it was possible to compare the subjective impressions of each group of participants with their actual performance on the fluency measurementsallowing some insight into issues related to the face validity of each learning environment. The questionnaire consisted of 15 or 16 Likert Scale items (depending on the form) items and an open ended question. Questions were divided into five thematic categories: 1) 2) Evaluation of potential language benefits of the course Evaluation of potential social benefits of the course

62 3) 4) 5) Self-Evaluation of proficiency in typing and using computers Evaluation of specific components of the course An open-ended question on the back of the survey allowed space for

participants to be more specific about the overall impression of the course and to give suggestions for future implementations of the course. The responses for each question were tabulated in an Excel spreadsheet and reported in the form of histograms. Because the number of participants in each group were not equal, the results were reported in percentages.

63

CHAPTER 4. RESULTS

4.1. Introduction This chapter describes the results of the data analysis to investigate the primary research question in this study: Can ESL oral fluency be improved through the medium of a text-based Internet chat environment? A secondary question regarding the impressions of participants towards the three different learning environments employed in the study is also explored in the data analysis. The data for investigating the primary question are the participants pretest to posttest gain scores that were calculated for each of the five measures of fluency. The data for investigating the secondary question are the quantitative and qualitative responses to an exit study administered at the end of the study. The first section of this chapter presents descriptive statistics on the fluency gains made in each of the three groups. The second section presents the quantitative analyses of the three groups on the five measures of fluency. The three research hypotheses are addressed by presenting results of the one way ANOVA and the accompanying pairwise comparisons. The effect size for the treatment variables is also presented. The third section of this chapter summarizes the participant responses on the exit survey that was administered at the end of the study. Although small in scale, it provides insight into the affective dimensions of the study and the degree to which participants in each group believed that their English proficiency improved over the six-week period.

64

4.2. Descriptive Statistics of Gain Scores Tables 4.1 4.5 present the average pretest, posttest, and gain scores for each of the five fluency measures. The percent of improvement from pretest to posttest is presented in the final column of each table. The percent improvement is also presented in the histograms in Figures 4.1 4.5. The data clearly indicate that while each group in the study made gains in fluency, the gains made by participants in the Internet Chat group were the highest. The Internet Chat group demonstrated higher average gain scores on all five measures when compared to the Control group and higher average gains scores on all but one measurearticulation ratewhen compared to the Face-to-Face group. On the speaking rate measure (syllables per second including pause time), participants in the Control group made an average gain of only a tenth of a syllable per second or roughly four percent, participants in the Face-to-Face group improved by .36 syllables per second or 15 percent, and participants in the Internet Chat group made an average gain of .47 syllables per second or nearly 20 percent. In terms of the phonation time ratio measure (speaking time divided by total length of speech sample), participants in the Control group improved their scores on average from .65 to .68 which is a four percent increase, participants in the Face-to-Face group increased their scores on average from .61 to .66 which reflects an eight percent increase, and participants in the Internet Chat group increased their scores on average from .62 to .73 which reflects a 17 percent increase. On the articulation rate measure (syllables per second not including pause time), participants in the Control group made an average gain of .05 syllables per second or one percent, participants in the Face-to-Face group made an average gain of .24 syllables per second or six percent, and participants in the Internet Chat group made an average gain of .05 syllables per second or nearly two percent. On the mean length of run measure (average number of syllables

65 uttered between pause boundaries), participants in the Control group made an average gain of .50 syllables per speech run or eight percent, participants in the Face-to-Face group made an average gain of .79 syllables per speech run or roughly 14 percent, and participants in the Internet Chat group made an average increase of 2.06 syllables per speech run which is a 38 percent increase. Finally, on the average length of pause measure (average length of pauses .25 second or longer), participants demonstrated an average decrease of .04 seconds per pause or five percent, participants in the Internet Chat group demonstrated an average decrease of .14 seconds per pause or 14 percent, and participants in the Internet Chat group demonstrated an average decrease of .18 seconds per pause or 21 percent. Some general observations from the descriptive data should be noted here. First, the results from the gain score calculations show that even the Control group performed better on the posttest measures of fluency. This outcome was expected and may be attributed to the fact that six weeks expired between the pretest and posttestallowing participants to improve English fluency even outside of the classroom setting. Gains made in the Control group may also be related to the fact that the participants were familiar with the test administrator and the testing conditions upon taking the posttest. Although different prompts were used for the pretest and posttest, it is likely that the similarity of tasks and technical procedures between the two exams facilitated stronger performance on the posttest.

66 Table 4.1 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Speaking Rate Measure
Variable N Control Face-to-Face Chat 10 14 10 Pretest M 2.57 2.34 2.40 SD .46 .40 .47 N 10 14 10 Posttest M 2.68 2.70 2.88 SD .38 .40 .43 M .11 .36 .47 Gain SD .42 .31 .32 % 4.28 15.38 19.58

25 20 15 10 5 0 C ontrol F ace C hat

Figure 4.1. Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Speaking Rate Measure

67 Table 4.2 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Phonation Time Ratio Measure
Variable N Control Face-to-Face Chat 10 14 10 Pretest M .65 .61 .62 SD .07 .092 .097 N 10 14 10 Posttest M .68 .66 .73 SD .08 .08 .08 M .03 .05 .11 Gain SD .06 .07 .07 % 4.61 8.20 17.42

20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Control Face Chat

Figure 4.2. Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Phonation Time Ratio Measure

68 Table 4.3 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Articulation Rate Measure
Variable N Control Face-to-Face Chat 10 14 10 Pretest M 3.9 3.84 3.82 SD .41 .35 .37 N 10 14 10 Posttest M 3.95 4.08 3.87 SD .29 .44 .26 M .05 .24 .05 Gain SD .47 .42 .31 % 1.28 6.25 1.31

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Control Face Chat

Figure 4.3. Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Articulation Rate Measure

69 Table 4.4 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Mean Length of Run Measure
Variable N Control Face-to-Face Chat 10 14 10 Pretest M 5.79 5.53 5.49 SD 1.36 1.42 1.37 N 10 14 10 Posttest M 6.29 6.32 7.61 SD 1.52 1.17 2.06 M .50 .79 2.12 Gain SD .81 1.74 1.36 % 8.64 14.29 38.62

45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Control Face Chat

Figure 4.4. Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Mean Length of Run Measure

70 Table 4.5 Descriptive Statistics for the Results on the Average Length of Pause Measure
Pretest Variable Control Face-to-Face Chat N 10 14 10 M .78 .96 .85 SD .13 .39 .16 N 10 14 10 Posttest M .74 .82 .67 SD .14 .24 .15 M -.04 -.14 -.18 Gain SD .21 .31 .17 % 5.13 14.58 21.18

25 20 15 10 5 0 Control Face Chat

Figure 4.5. Percent Increase from Pretest to Posttest for Each Group on the Average Length of Pause Measure

71 A second general observation is that the largest gain scores were made on the mean length of run measure with the three groups demonstrating a combined average gain of 20 percent in the number of syllables uttered between pauses of .25 seconds or greater. The lowest gain scores for all three groups were made on the measure of articulation rate with a combined average gain of just under three percent or slightly over a tenth of a syllable per second. The negative gain scores reported by all three groups on the average length of pause measure is expected because length of pauses is inversely correlated with fluency. A final general observation of the descriptive data relates to the reported standard deviation for the three groups on the various fluency measures. While the standard deviation is comparable between the three groups on four of the five measures, it is notably higher for the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups on the mean length of run (MLR) measure (see Table 4.4). A closer look at the data reveals a considerable degree of dispersion of scores within the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups on the MLR measure whereas the Control group had relatively little within group variation on the measure. A possible explanation for this is that there was an interaction between the two teaching environments (face-to-face and on-line chat) and the learners within those environments as far as improvement on the mean length of run measure is concerned. In other words, it is possible that the on-line chat (or face to face) environment was especially conducive to fluency gains on the MLR variable for some participants while it was not especially conducive to gains for others. This scenario seems especially plausible when considering the argument made by Towel, Hawkins et al. (1996) that of all the fluency variables, MLR is most closely related to the acquisition of lexical knowledge. If this is the case, then it would seem reasonable that gains on the MLR variable would show the greatest amount of within group dispersion with learners responding very differently to the particular learning environment as far as lexical acquisition is concerned.

72 4.3. Statistical Analyses of Fluency Improvement for Instructional Groups This section reports on several analyses that were conducted to test the three hypotheses of the study: 1) Participants in the face-to-face classroom will demonstrate gains in fluency that are higher than the gains made by participants in the control group; 2) Participants in the text-based, Internet chat classroom will demonstrate gains in fluency that are higher than the gains made by participants in the control group; and 3) Participants in the text-based Internet chat classroom will demonstrate gains in fluency that are higher than the gains made by participants in the face-to-face classroom. The analyses reported in this section were performed on the gain score data for the three experimental groups. Because the statistical analyses were based on the assumption that 1) the three groups had similar fluency levels at the beginning of the study and 2) the variances within each group were comparable, two additional analyses were performed to test these assumptions. The results of these tests are presented below.

4.3.1. Testing of Assumptions that Underlie the Statistical Analyses One fundamental assumption in the study was that the randomized assignment of participants to experimental groups would create groups that had similar fluency levels at the start of the study. To test this assumption, an ANOVA was conducted for each fluency measure on the pretest scores. The results of the five one-way ANOVAs are presented in Table 4.6. The results of the one-way ANOVA procedures indicate that there were no significant differences on the three groups pretest scores on any of the fluency measures (p<.05). Although the variance between groups is the greatest on the average length of pauses measure (F=1.36, p<.271), it is still well outside the margin of significance. These results thus confirmed that the participants in each of the three groups began the study at a similar level of fluency.

73 Table 4.6 One-Way ANOVAs Comparing Pretest Fluency Performances of the Three Experimental Groups on the Five Fluency Measures
Measure SR Between Groups Within Groups PTR Between Groups Within Groups AR Between Groups Within Groups MLR Between Groups Within Groups ALP Between Groups Within Groups df 2 31 33 2 31 33 2 31 33 2 31 33 2 31 33 SS .31 5.99 .01 .24 .03 4.24 .54 59.64 .21 2.35 MS .16 .19 .69 .01 .01 .13 .02 .14 .14 .27 1.92 1.36 .10 .08 .271 .870 .882 .511 F .81 P .455

Note. SR = speaking rate; PTR = phonation time ratio; AR = articulation rate; MLR = mean length of run; ALP = average length of pauses. A second assumption relates to the ANOVA which assumes that variances of each group are equal (e.g. homogeneity of variance). Although the ANOVA is relatively robust with respect to violation of this assumption if the group Ns are equal, the Ns in this study were not equal and so Levenes test was performed on the gain score data to test the assumption. The results of this test are presented in Table 4.7

74 Table 4.7 Results of Levenes Test of Homogeneity of Variance Across Groups on the Five Gain Score Measures
Measure SR Gain Between Groups Within Groups PTR Gain Between Groups Within Groups AR Gain Between Groups Within Groups MLR Gain Between Groups Within Groups ALP Gain Between Groups Within Groups DF 2 31 .49 2 31 2.18 2 31 1.42 2 31 .15 2 31 .860 .256 .130 .617 Levene Statistic .38 P .687

Note. SR = speaking rate; PTR = phonation time ratio; AR = articulation rate; MLR = mean length of run; ALP = average length of pauses. As shown in Table 4.7, the tests were not significant (p<.05) for any of the dependent variable measures. Consequently the null-hypothesis that the variances of each group are comparable was accepted.

4.4. Results of the Five One-Way ANOVAs on the Dependent Variable Measures A one-way ANOVA was performed on each of the five gain score measures. The purpose of this procedure was to test the null hypothesis in the study which was that the treatment variables would not lead to any differences between the three groups. Table 4.8 summaries the results of these ANOVAs.

75 Table 4.8 One-Way Analyses of Variance for Effects of Treatment Variables on Fluency Measure Gains Scores
Variable SR Gain Between Groups Within Groups PTR Gain Between Groups Within Groups AR Gain Between Groups Within Groups MLR Gain Between Groups Within Groups ALP Gain Between Groups Within Groups 2 31 .12 1.89 2 31 14.04 62.10 .06 .06 .94 .401 .06 2 31 .28 5.14 7.02 2.00 3.51 .042 .18 2 31 .04 .14 .14 .17 .83 .445 .05 2 31 .69 3.79 .02 .01 3.40 .028 .21 Df SS MS .35 .12 F 2.84 p .074 p2 .16

Note. p2 = partial eta squared (effect size) SR = speaking rate; PTR = phonation time ratio; AR = articulation rate; MLR = mean length of run; ALP = average length of pauses. The results indicate that there was a significant difference between the three groups on two of the five measures of fluency. Significance was found on the gain scores for phonation time ratio (F=3.40, p<0.05) as well as the gain scores for mean length of run (F=3.51, p<0.05). In other words, the ANOVA results indicate that the type of instructional environment (Control vs Face-toFace vs On-Line Chat) did have an effect on fluency as measured by these two variables. Differences between the means on the other variables were not found to be significant. Potential reasons for this are discussed in Chapter Five.

76 4.5. Results of the Planned Comparisons to Test Specific Hypotheses Because the ANOVA indicates only whether a significant difference between groups exists and not where or in which direction the differences lie, it was necessary to conduct planned comparisons between groups to test each of the three hypotheses of the study. Also known as posthoc tests, these comparisons were only performed on the variables that were found to be significant in the ANOVA results discussed above. Results for the planned comparisons are presented in Tables 4.9 - 4.11. Table 4.9 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 1: Face-to-Face Group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Control Group
Face-to-Face Measure PTR Gain MLR Gain M .05 .79 SD .07 1.74 Control M .03 .50 SD .06 .81 df 31 31 t .96 .49 p .172 .313 ES .41 .22

Note: ES = effect size (Cohens d) PTR = phonation time ratio; MLR = mean length of run.

77 Table 4.10 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 2: Internet Chat group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Control Group
Chat Measure PTR Gain MLR Gain M .11 2.05 SD .08 1.36 Control M .03 .50 SD .06 .81 df 31 31 t 2.76 2.46 p .005 .010 ES 1.24 1.43

Note: ES = effect size (Cohens d) PTR = phonation time ratio; MLR = mean length of run.

Table 4.11 Results for Planned Comparison Test for Hypothesis 3: Internet Chat group Will Demonstrate Higher Fluency Gain Scores than Face-to-Face Group
Chat Measure PTR Gain MLR Gain M .11 2.05 SD .08 1.36 M .05 .79 Face SD .07 1.74 df 31 31 t 2.02 2.16 p .026 .020 ES .80 .82

Note: ES = effect size (Cohens d) PTR = phonation time ratio; MLR = mean length of run. In regard to the first hypothesisthat the Face-to-Face group would demonstrate higher fluency gains scores than the Control group (Table 4.9) neither of the measures were significant. On the phonation time ratio measure, the Face-to-Face group gain scores (M=.05, SD=.07) and the Control group gain scores (M=.03, SD=.06) were not significantly different, t(31) =.96, p =.172. And on the mean length of run measure, the Face-to-Face group gain scores (M=.79,

78 SD=1.74) were not significantly different, t (31)=.49, p=.313, from the Control group gain scores (M=.50, SD=.81). In regard to the second hypothesisthat the Internet Chat group would demonstrate higher fluency gains scores than the Control group (Table 4.10) both of the measures were significant. On the phonation time ratio measure, the Internet Chat group gain scores (M=.11, SD=.08) and the Control group gain scores (M=.03, SD=.06) were significantly different, t(31) = 2.76, p=.005. And on the mean length of run measure, the Internet Chat group gain scores (M =2.05, SD=1.36) were significantly different, t (31)=2.46, p=.010, from the Control group gain scores (M=.50, SD=.81). Finally, in regard to the third hypothesisthat the Internet Chat group would demonstrate higher fluency gain scores than the Face-to-Face group(Table 4.11)significance was again found on both measures. On the phonation time ratio measure, the Internet Chat group gain scores (M=.11, SD=.08) and the Face-to-Face group gain scores (M=.05, SD=.07 were significantly different, t(31)=2.02, p=.026. And on the mean length of run measure, the Internet Chat group gain scores (M=2.05, SD=1.36) were significantly different, t (31) =2.16, p=.02, from the Face-to-Face group gain scores (M=.79, SD=1.74).

4.6. Effect Size Effect size is an important statistic that provides insight beyond the statistical significance of the relationship between two variables. While statistical significance is an indicator of the probability that a difference between two measures occurred by chance, it does not indicate the magnitude of the difference. For example, experiments with large sample populations may find relatively small differences to be significant whereas experiments with small sample sizes may fail to detect significance on differences that are in fact quite

79 large. In a study such as this one, effect size is a useful indicator of the degree to which two groups differ in respect to the treatment effect. The effect sizes for each of the planned comparisons are presented in the final columns of Tables 4.9 - 4.11. Cohen (1988) defines small effect sizes as those that are .2 (or less), medium as .5, and large as .8 or higher. By this standard, the effect sizes for both measures are quite high when comparing the Internet Chat group with the Control group and the Internet Chat group with the Face-to-Face group but relatively low when comparing the Face-to-Face group with the Control group. This suggests that the treatment effect of the on-line chat environment was in fact quite strong as far as the phonation time ratio and mean length of run variables are concerned.

4.7. Results of the Exit Survey This section presents the findings from the survey that was administered to all participants at the end of the study. Figures 4.1 4.17 present histograms showing the percent of respondents from each group who strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, etc with each item on the survey. Because the number of participants in each group was not equal, the histograms are based on percentages rather than frequency counts. The histograms reveal that a larger percentage of the Face-to-Face group participants strongly or somewhat agreed that the course helped them to improve their fluency (Figure 4.6) and listening (Figure 4.7), while clearly a larger percentage of the Internet Chat group participants strongly or somewhat agreed that the course had helped them to improve their knowledge of American culture (Figure 4.8) and vocabulary (Figure 4.9). Approximately 40 percent of participants in both the Face-to-Face and Control groups strongly agreed that the course has helped them to feel more comfortable using English (Figure 4.13) while only 20 percent of the Control group participants strongly agreed with the statement.

80 In regard to the statement, I felt connected to other students in the course, (Figure 4.11) the responses were somewhat surprising. Only 10 percent more participants in the Face-to-Face group strongly agreed with the statement than those in the Internet Chat group (50 percent vs 40 percent respectively). Even more surprising was the fact that 30 percent of the Control group participants either strongly agreed or somewhat agree with this statementthis in spite of the fact that they had no contact with the other participants who were taking the course. A possible explanation for this is presented in Chapter 5. A higher percentage of participants in the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups expressed overall satisfaction with the course than those in Control group. Nearly all of the participants in the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups strongly agreed that they would recommend the course to a friend (Figure 4.12) and 100 percent of the participants in these two groups indicated that the course had been beneficial overall (Figure 4.15). In contrast, only 30 percent of the Control group participants strongly agreed that they would recommend the course to a friend and only 40 percent strongly agreed that the course had been beneficial overall. In terms of the topics and activities selected for the course, participants in all three groups expressed nearly the same levels of agreement on whether the selected topics had been useful to them (Figure 4.10) with 60 to 70 percent of participants in all three groups strongly agreeing that the topics had been useful. Roughly the same percentage of participants from each group thought that the on-line listening activities had been useful (Figure 4.18). However, there was a more clear difference between groups in regard to the on-line new expressions activities with 100 percent of the Internet Chat group participants finding them very useful whereas only 70 percent of the Control group and 78 percent of the Face-to-Face group participants indicating that the new expressions activities had been very useful. Opinions were also quite different across groups in regard to the on-line quiz activities (Figure 4.20) with 70 percent of the Internet Chat

81 group participants, 63 percent of the Face-to-Face group participants, and only 40 percent of the Control group participants finding the quizzes to be useful. Finally, with respect to the learning environments, the Face-to-Face group indicated the greatest satisfaction with 100 percent of the participants strongly agreeing that the face-to-face component of the course had been useful (Figure 4.22). Seventy percent of the Internet Chat group participants thought that the chat component of the course had been useful (Figure 4.21). Not surprisingly, 100 percent of the participants in the Control group strongly agreed with the statement that the course would have been better if it had met in a face-to-face classroom (Figure 4.14). The Internet Chat group participants were more divided across categories on this item with 40 percent strongly agreeing and 30 percent somewhat agreeing with this statement. The exit survey also prompted participants to write down any general comments or suggestions that they had regarding the course. A large percentage of respondents from each group chose to do this. The complete inventory of responses is displayed in Appendices 11-13. A review of the responses supports findings from other items on the survey that participants in the Chat and Face-to-Face groups were generally more satisfied with the course than those in the Control group. For example, several of the Control group participants mentioned that they would have preferred taking the course in a Face-to-Face environment, and participants in the Control group also seemed to focus on aspects of technology or the curriculum that they thought could be improved. However, only one participant in the Internet Chat group suggested a change in the course environment, and that was to suggest the inclusion of video chat. The common suggestion from participants in the Face-to-Face group was that the course would have been better if each session had been longer or if more sessions had been offered each week. Interestingly, none of the Internet Chat group participants suggested a change in the length of the course.

82

C ontrol 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somew Agree hat

Face-to-Face

C hat

Percent

U ndecided

Somew hat D isagree

Strongly D isagree

Figure 4.6. Responses to Exit Survey Item #1 Course helped me to improve my fluency.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent of

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Figure 4.7. Responses to Exit Survey Item #2 Course helped me to improve my listening.

83

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Figure 4.8. Responses to Exit Survey Item #3 Course helped me to improve my knowledge of American culture.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Figure 4.9. Responses to Exit Survey Item #4 Course helped me to improve my vocabulary.

84

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Figure 4.10. Responses to Exit Survey Item #5 The topics selected for this course were useful to me.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.11. Responses to Exit Survey Item #6 I felt connected to other students in the course.

85

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.12. Responses to Exit Survey Item #7 I Would Recommend this Course to a Friend

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.13. Responses to Exit Survey Item #8 I Feel More Comfortable Using English Now

86

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.14. Responses to Exit Survey Item #9 The Course Would Have Been Better Had it Met in a Face-to-Face Classroom.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.15. Responses to Exit Survey Item #10 Overall, I Think This Was a Beneficial Course.

87

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.16. Responses to Exit Survey Item #11 I am proficient at Typing.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree

Face-to-Face

Chat

Percent

Undecided

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

No Response

Figure 4.17. Responses to Exit Survey Item #12 I am Proficient at Using Computers.

88

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Very Useful Percent

Face-to-Face

Chat

Somewhat Useful Not Very Useful

Undecided

No Response

Figure 4.18. Responses to Exit Survey Item #13 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Listening Passage Activities

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Very Useful Percent

Face-to-Face

Chat

Somewhat Useful Not Very Useful

Undecided

No Response

Figure 4.19. Responses to Exit Survey Item #14 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line New Expressions Activities.

89

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Very Useful Percent

Face-to-Face

Chat

Somewhat Useful Not Very Useful

Undecided

No Response

Figure 4.20. Responses to Exit Survey Item #15 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Unit Quizzes.

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Very Useful Percent

Face-to-Face

Chat

Somewhat Useful Not Very Useful

Undecided

No Response

Figure 4.21. Responses to Exit Survey Item #16 Regarding the Usefulness of the On-Line Chat Component of the Course.

90

Control 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Very Useful Percent

Face-to-Face

Chat

Somewhat Useful Not Very Useful

Undecided

No Response

Figure 4.22. Responses to Exit Survey Item #17 Regarding the Usefulness of the Face-to-Face Component of the Course

91

CHAPTER 5. DISCUSSION

5.1. Introduction This chapter presents the research findings from the previous chapter in context and provides explanations for what was observed in the study. First, the three research hypothesis are revisited and analyzed in light of the data that was collected and analyzed. Second, using the same data, the five temporal variables are analyzed and tentative conclusions are drawn about which of these variables was the most effective for analyzing fluency. Third, the results from the exit survey are discussed in more detail. Next, the weaknesses of the study and research design are presented and suggestions are given for similar research in the future. Finally, the chapter concludes by discussing the potential implications of this research in the design and delivery of ESL curriculums and distance learning environments.

5.2. Results of Hypothesis Testing Hypothesis 1: Participants in the Face-to-Face group will demonstrate higher fluency gain scores than those in the Control group. Significance was not found on any of the temporal variable measures when comparing the gain scores of the Face-to-Face and Control group and so the first hypothesis could not be confirmed. The relatively low effect sizes for the fluency measures also indicates that the instructional condition did not have a substantial influence on fluency improvement in the two groups.

92 Although not directly related to the main research question, this hypothesis was important to the study due to it being rooted in the underlying assumption that fluency in a language improves through use of the language. There are several possible explanations for the surprisingly low fluency gains in the Face-to-Face group. First, it could be argued that the treatment period (e.g. length of the course) was too short. Perhaps if the course had taken place over a period of one semester, greater gains in fluency could have been detected. This potential shortcoming of the study is addressed in a later section of this chapter. However, it is not a plausible explanation for the relatively low fluency gains in the Face-to-Face group, especially when considering that much higher gains were demonstrated by the Internet Chat group during the same six-week period. For the same reason, the alternative explanationthat the temporal variables were not adequate or valid for measuring gains in fluency gains should also be rejected. If the temporal variables were useful for detecting fluency gains in the Internet Chat group, then it would seem that the variables should be useful in the other groups as well. A more likely explanation for the minimal gains in fluency in the Face-toFace group relates to the limitations that are inherent to the face-to-face learning environment. Unlike the text-based chat environment in which participants do not need to adhere to rules of turn taking, the discourse conventions in a traditional environment limit the class discussion to only one speaker at a time. This was confirmed by the researcher who observed that participants in the faceto-face classes were restricted to far fewer turns to use English than participants in the on-line chat classroom. If improvement in fluency is indeed dependent on use of the language, as research and common sense suggests, it is understandable why the Face-to-Face group made relatively small gains in fluency, given the structure of the course. The implications of these observations for the design of face-to-face and on-line ESL courses are discussed later in this chapter.

93

Hypothesis 2: Participants in the Internet Chat group will demonstrate higher fluency gain scores than those in the Control group. Support for the second hypothesis was found on the phonation time ratio measure (t (31) = 2.758, p=.005) and mean length of run measure (t (31) = 2.455, p= .010). The effect size for the chat environment variable was exceptionally high for both the phonation time ratio variable (1.24) and the mean length of run variable (1.43). According to the percentile equivalents, an effect size of 1.43 places the average Internet Chat group gain score at nearly the 93rd percentile of scores in the Control group. Unlike the first hypothesis which played a peripheral role in the study, the second hypothesis (along with the third) was central to the main research question (e.g. can fluency be improved though the medium of a text-based internet chat environment?) The significantly higher gain scores of the Internet Chat group on two of the measures provide support for the notion that oral fluency improvement is indeed possible within a text-based chat environment. The strong fluency gains in the Internet Chat group compared to those in the Control group can be explained by the fact that the Internet Chat group participants were communicating in English with other class members (during class sessions) over the six-week course period whereas the Control group participants were studying independently and not using English to communicate with each other. Although it is true that the participants in the Internet Chat group were not speaking to each other via vocal utterances, they were in-fact, engaging in a form of real-time communication that required effective access of the lexicon as detailed in Levelts (1989) model of language production. These findings are consistent with those in Payne and Whitney (2002), one of the only other studies to examine the development of oral proficiency in a chat environment. Hyothesis 3: Participants in the Internet Chat group will demonstrate higher fluency gain scores than those in the Face-to-Face group.

94 Support was also found for the final hypothesis with the Internet Chat group demonstrating significantly higher gains scores than the Face-to-Face group on the phonation time ratio (t (31) = 2.016, p = .026) and mean length of run (t (31) = 2.160, p = .020) measure. The effect size on both of these variables was approximately .80 which is considered to be relatively large. Although the third hypothesis was not as strongly supported by the data as the second hypothesis, one may argue that the findings are still impressive especially when considering that on-line chat instruction was being compared with face-to-face instruction which has traditionally been considered the sine qua non of fluency instruction. The descriptive statistics presented in Tables 4.1-4.5 reveal that the Internet Chat group made higher average gain scores than the Face-to-Face group on all five measures. As discussed in the next section, it is likely that statistical significance would have been attained on additional fluency variables for this hypothesis if the sample size had been larger. There are several explanations for the stronger gains in fluency demonstrated in the Internet Chat group. One explanation is that the Face-toFace group did not have as much opportunity to use English during the class periods as the Internet Chat group. As already discussed, the six to eight participants in each of the Face-to-Face groups were seated around a large table. During class discussions, each member waited and listened while another class member took a turn. This structure limited the average participation in a one hour period to perhaps only three or four turns per participant, depending on how long each participant spoke. In the Internet Chat group, however, turntaking was not observed and participants contributed their ideas simultaneously. In fact, as participants became interested in the discussion topic, it was common for several responses to appear on the monitor in rapid sequence. Of course this is possible and even appropriate in a chat room environment where it is difficult and even undesirable to structure the course in such a way that all of the participants stare at a blank screen while waiting for one of the class members to type a response. Such an environment would create long moments of delay and

95 reduce the effectiveness of the course. The inherent difference between the two environments in this regard made it possible for the Internet Chat group participants to use English far more in the chat environment than in the face-toface environment. A second explanation for the higher gains in fluency in the Internet Chat group again relates to the nature of the chat environment. As mentioned in Chapter 2, other studies have shown that on-line chat environments tend to reduce the barriers that inhibit communication in a traditional discussion environment. For example, second language learners are sometimes reluctant to speak in a group because they are afraid of making mistakes or not having the right words to express their meaning. The pressure of having to use English while other class members are waiting and watching may reduce the degree to which English is used in any given classroom. The on-line chat environment reduces these concerns by giving students more privacy as they frame their ideas and put together their thoughts in the second language. This is reflected on the exit survey of one Internet Chat group participant who commented that his / her English had improved because of typing English freely (and) not caring my mistakes so much (see Appendix L, Number 7). A third possible explanation for the stronger fluency gains in the Internet Chat group again relates to the chat room learning environment and is illustrated by the following comment from a Internet Chat group participant on the exit survey I learned the English by using my eyes, hands (typing), and hearing [student referring to the on-line listening activities]. It worked very much (Appendix L, Number 5). As demonstrated in this comment, one potential advantage of the chat environment is that the learner is able to see the words and sentences that are being generated by the instructor and the other participants in the course. When the instructor corrects a grammatical or vocabulary mistake, the correction can be readily seen. In the face-to-face environment, the instructors corrections or recasts may go unnoticed, or

96 perhaps the students may have difficulty comprehending the nature of the correction since they hear it only for a moment. Indeed, it seems that the text- based chat room environment would be especially helpful for learners who process information better when it is presented in a visual form. Although the researcher / instructor made frequent use of a white board in the face-to-face classroom to write down new vocabulary items and their definitions, it was obviously infeasible to display every sentence that was being uttered by the instructor and participants during the class. This key difference between the text-based chat and face-to-face learning environments should be explored in future research.

5.3. Evaluation of the Fluency Variables Five fluency variables were selected for this study based on their dominance in the literature. Analysis of the data from this study reveals that the five variables performed quite differently as measures of fluency. A closer examination of these variables is necessary for determining which variables (or combination of variables) should be employed in future research of this kind. In this section, two aspects of these variables are examined: 1) the degree to which each of the variables yielded statistical significance for fluency gains, 2) the degree to which each of the five variables correlated with the other fluency measures.

5.3.1. Statistical Significance of Fluency Variables Statistical significance is an indicator of the probability that an observed difference between two groups occurred by chance. The degree to which the fluency variables in this study yielded statistically significant results depended on several factors. First, the number of participants played an important role. The smaller the sample size, the more difficult it is to detect differences between

97 groups. Because this study had a relatively small sample size of 34 participants, it was much more difficult to attain statistical significance for group difference on the various fluency gains scores. Another factor that influenced the statistical significance of the findings was the actual performance of participants in the study. For obvious reasons, if all three groups of participants in the study made similar gains in fluency from the pretest to posttest on a certain variable, then the F scores on that variable would not be significant. Finally, statistical significance in a study like this is affected by the number of variables employed in the study. When more than one variable is used in a study, the Alpha level is typically lowered to reduce the chance that a Type 1 error is made (e.g. falsely concluding that difference between group exists). In this study, applying the Bonferonni adjustment would have reduced the Alpha level to .017 (.05 / 3) for any one variablemaking it impossible to claim statistical significance on any of the variables. In future studies as this one, this factor will be taken into consideration in order to increase the statistical power. The greatest differences between the three groups in this study were detected on the mean length of run and phonation time ratio variables. Although it was not significant at the .05 alpha level, the performance of the speaking rate variable also was relatively strong with a p value on the ANOVA of .074 (see Table 4.8). This is consistent with other studies discussed in Chapter 2 which found these three variables to be the strongest predictors of fluency. To better understand why the differences between the three groups were most significant at these variable levels, it is useful to examine the data for the individual participants in each of the three groups. As seen in Table 5.1, for each group of participants, the percent improvement in fluency scores from the pretest to the posttest was highest for the mean length of run variable with the Control group making an average gain of nine percent, the Face-to-Face group making an average gain of 20 percent, and the Internet Chat group making an average gain of 40 percent. The second highest gains were made on the variable of speaking rate with the Control group

98 making an average gain of six percent, the Face-to-Face group making an average gain of 17 percent, and the Internet Chat group making an average gain of 22 percent. (These close percentage values for the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups are a likely reason why speaking rate was not found to be significant in the one-way ANOVA). Lower overall gains were made on the measures of phonation time ratio and average length of pauses, and articulation rate showed the smallest pretest to posttest variation with an average increase of only four percent across the three groups. It should be emphasized that although the degree of improvement was noticeably different for the three groups, the relative improvement among the five variables was remarkably consistent across groups. Considering the information already presented on the statistical significance of the variables, this allows for several conclusions to be drawn. First, it appears that gains in fluency are indeed best measured through the mean length of run (MLR) variable. Even for the Control group which demonstrated minimal overall improvement from pretest to posttest, the strongest gains were still made on the this measure. Towell et al. (1996) has hypothesized that MLR is the single best indicator that proceduralization of knowledge has taken place at the formulator level. In their qualitative analysis of the data, the authors find some indication that improvement in the length (e.g. density) of speech run is associated with increased efficiency in sentence building through the use of prefabricated syntactic units. Although it is beyond the scope of this study to analyze and compare the run of speech that were produced by participants in the pretest and posttest speech samples, one may speculate that the increased MLR scores were accompanied by increased use of prefabricated expressions which according to Pawley and Syder (1983) is a hallmark of fluent speech production. Given that all three groups in the six week course were involved in vocabulary and listening activitiesboth of which seem conducive to improving the use of prefabricated expressionsit is understandable why the strongest gains posted by all three groups were at the MLR level.

99 A second conclusion that may be drawn from this data is that articulation rate (AR) is a relatively weak indicator of fluency development. As seen in Table 5.1, the average gain for AR across all three groups was only four percent or roughly a tenth of a syllable per second. At the same time, a number of participants who made strong gains on the MLR variable actually had a decrease in articulation from the pretest to posttest (e.g. Chat 1, Chat 6, Face 4). This finding supports the hypothesis put forward by Towel et al. that gains in AR can be attributed to proceduralization at the articulator level (e.g. the speaker become adept at uttering words rapidly) rather than proceduralization at the formulator level as already discussed. The fact that the strongest (although still small) gains in articulation rate were demonstrated by the Face-to-Face group is also worth noting here. If articulation rate is strictly related to development at the Aritculator level in Levelts model, then it is not surprising that the group with the highest overall gains was the group that was actually using the articulator in the classroom sessions to produce speech. By regularly engaging the mouth musculature to produce speech, one may hypothesize that the Face-to-Face group was able to become more comfortable in articulating sounds and thereby develop proceduralization at this level.

100 Table 5.1 Percent Increases in Fluency Levels for articulate English sounds, one may musculature in the classroom setting to Individual Participants
SRgain% Control 1 Control 2 Control 3 Control 4 Control 5 Control 6 Control 7 Control 8 Control 9 Control Average Face 1 Face 2 Face 3 Face 4 Face 5 Face 6 Face 7 Face 8 Face 9 Face 10 Face 11 Face 12 Face 13 Face 14 Average Chat 1 Chat 2 Chat 3 Chat 4 Chat 5 Chat 6 Chat 7 Chat 8 Chat 9 Chat 10 Average Grand 31 10 18 -6 -23 -2 21 -6 5 10 6 25 13 10 28 -7 35 20 39 3 43 2 3 7 12 17 6 6 58 32 15 17 2 15 21 48 22 15 PTRgain% 19 1 3 -1 -9 -8 2 3 17 14 4 2 -2 6 33 -13 11 2 16 13 34 4 14 14 2 10 22 5 52 21 7 26 -2 7 19 33 19 11 ARgain% 11 9 14 -5 -15 9 19 -8 -11 -2 2 23 15 5 -4 6 23 17 13 -8 7 -2 -8 -6 11 7 -12 1 2 9 6 -8 3 8 1 12 2 4 MLRgain% -2 18 7 -6 -14 11 28 13 20 17 9 27 25 18 64 3 37 33 19 -35 99 -10 15 -17 1 20 59 9 100 71 48 32 -2 27 27 31 40 23 ALPgain% -45 3 -14 5 44 22 -3 16 -26 -18 -2 0 15 -3 -9 42 -27 8 -21 -50 -9 -23 -17 -43 -12 -11 -15 -5 -23 -40 4 -19 -3 -10 -36 -49 -20 -11

Note: SR= speaking rate; PR=phonation time ratio; AR=articulation rate; MLR=mean length of run; ALP=average length of pauses. ,

101 Finally, the data indicates that the average length of pauses (ALP) measure may be most meaningful when considered together with the MLR variable. As seen in table 5.1, of the five participants in the Control group who had an increase in ALP from pretest to posttest (Control 2,4,5,6,8), two (Control 4,5) demonstrated declines on the MLR variable. However, of the three participants in the Face-to-Face group (Face 2,5,7) and one participant in the Internet Chat group (Chat 5) who demonstrated an increase in the ALP variable, all demonstrated increases on the MLR variable. This suggests that the ESL learners who participated in the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups were able to make better use of their increased pause times on the posttestperhaps using the longer pauses to plan what to say in the subsequent run of speech. This finding is supported by Towell et al. (1996) who posit the notion that proceduralization of knowledge at the formulator level is best indicated when a speaker demonstrates an increase in phonation time ratio and mean length of run while decreasing or showing no change on the average length of pause variable.

5.4. Correlation of Fluency Variables Another way to reflect on the five fluency variables that were used in this study is to examine their correlation with one another. By examining the variables in this way and determining which variable(s) are the most efficient predictors of fluency, it may be possible to reduce the number of variables used in future studies of this kind and thereby increase the potential significance of the findings overall. Towel et al. have stated that the speaking rate variable is the best overall indicator that proceduralization of knowledge has taken place somewhere within Levelts model (e.g. at either the Conceptualizer, Formulator, or Articulator levels). Although a rationale is not given, if this is true, it seem logical that it is due to a strong correlation of speaking rate with the other four fluency variables various combination of which the authors argue are indicative

102 of proceduralization of knowledge at specific levels in Levelts model. The data from this research seem to support their findings. Table 5.2 presents the bivariate correlation coefficients of the five gain score variables employed in the study. The data show significant correlations between speaking rate and the four other fluency variables. Phonation time ratio gains are significantly correlated with gains on all but one of the other four variablesarticulation rate. Gains in mean length of run and average length of pauses are correlated with gains in speaking rate and phonation time ratio, while gains in articulation rate are only correlated with gains in speaking rate. Table 5.2 Bivariate Correlations of Fluency Variable Gain Scores
Measure 1. SR Gain 2. PTR Gain 3. AR Gain 4. MLR Gain 5. ALP Gain 1 -.677(**) .617(**) .588(**) -.407 (*) --.153 .527(**) -.597(**) -.232 .105 -.208 -2 3 4 5

Note. SR= speaking rate; PR=phonation time ratio; AR=articulation rate; MLR=mean length of run; ALP=average length of pauses. ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). * Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Based on this information, it is apparent that speaking rate is an especially rich variable with significant Pearson correlation coefficients with PTR gain (r=.677, p<.01); AR gain (r=.617, p<.01); and MRL gain (r=.588, p<.01) and a negative correlation with ALP (r=-.407, p=<.05). Phonation time ratio was also strongly correlated with several variables including a positive correlation with MLR (r=.527, p<.01) and a negative correlation with ALP (r=-.597, p<.01). Mean

103 length of run gain was significantly correlated with gains in SR (r=.588, p<.01) and PTR (r=.527, p=.01). As already presented in this summary, average length of pauses had significant negative correlations with SR (r=-.407, p<.05) and phonation time ratio (r=-.597, p<.01). The reason for the strong correlation of speaking rate with the four other fluency variables is apparent when the compostiion of this variable is considered more carefully. Speaking rate in this study was calculated by dividing the number of syllables produced by the total length of time used to produce those syllablesincluding pause time. If the length of the speech sample is held constant at one minute, the only way to improve speaking rate is to squeeze more speech (e.g. syllables) into a one minute period. This can be accomplished by either 1) speaking at a faster articulation rate and keeping the total pause time the same; 2) speaking at the same articulation rate and decreasing the total pause timethereby allowing more room for speech; or 3) doing both of the above. The first approach involves an improvement in articulation rate (AR). The second approach leads to an improvement in phonation time ratio (PTR). And the third approach involves both. The three possibilities are presented in Figure 5.1.

104

Speaking Rate Gain

#1
+AR ~ Pause Time

#2 ~ AR - Pause Time

#3 + AR - Pause Time

+ AR

+ PTR

+ AR + PTR

Figure 5.1. Options for Improving Speaking Rate Gain Scores

As presented in Figure 5.1, improved phonation time ratio (PTR) is the outcome of two of the scenarios (#2 and #3) described above, and thus the strength of the speaking rate (SR) variable can be further understood by examining the relationship between phonation time ratio and the two remaining variables mean length of speech run (MLR) and average length of pauses (ALP). Phonation time ratio is defined as the percentage of time that is used for speaking (vs pausing) in a speech sample. Again assuming that the length of the speech sample is held constant at one minute, gains in the PTR variable are only possible by spending more time speaking and less time pausing. This can be accomplished by either 1) increasing (in seconds) the length of speech run and thereby decreasing the average length of pauses; 2); increasing (in seconds) the length of speech run and decreasing the number of pauses (keeping the average length of pauses constant); or 3) increasing the number of speech run while decreasing the average length of pausesa scenario that would not typically coincide with improvement in fluency.

105 Assuming that the articulation rate remains constant or increases, two of the above scenarios will be accompanied by an increase in mean length of run (MLR) (e.g. longer speech run lead to more syllables per run) and two of the scenarios will also involve a decrease in the average length of pauses (ALP). Hence the strong correlation between gains in phonation time ratio and gains in the MLR and ALP variables. The three possibilities are displayed in Figures 5.2 and 5.3.

Phonation Time Ratio Gain

+Run Time - ALP ~Pause #

+ Run Time ~ ALP - Pause #

~ Run Time - ALP + Pause #

+ MLR - ALP

+ MLR

- ALP

Figure 5.2. Options for Improving Phonation Time Ratio Gain Scores

106
Original Sample

speech

speech

speech

Option 1: Longer speech run time; Lower ALP; Same number of pauses

speech

speech

speech

Option 2: Longer speech run time; Same ALP; Fewer pauses

speech

speech

Option 3: Same speech run time; Lower ALP; More pauses

speech

speech

speech

speech

speech

Figure 5.3. Temporal Representation of Options for Improving Phonation Time Ratio

Although speaking rate is most strongly correlated with the other fluency gain score variables, it is not necessarily the ideal variable for determining actual gains in fluency. As Lehtonen (1981) has argued, a high articulation rate accompanied by a low percentage of pauses (e.g. scenario 3 in figure 5.1) may actually reflect a lack of language proficiency on the part of the speaker. In this study, several of the participants followed this pattern by improving on the speaking rate and phonation time ratio variables while at the same time showing declines in terms of the mean length of run. An example of this is given in Table 5.2 in which the speech run of one participant from the two different speech samples are compared.

107 Table 5.3 Speech Run of Participant F13 (Face-to-Face Group) from Speech Sample 1 and Speech Sample 2
S S P A M Speech Sample 1 Speaking Rate =2.99 Phonation Time Ratio =.64 Articulation Rate =4.63 Mean Length of Run = 7.25 Speech Sample 2 Speaking Rate =3.2 Phonation Time Ratio =.73 Articulation Rate =4.34 Mean Length of Run = 6
LENGTH 9* 3 3 4 10* 9 6 2 1 3 10* 4 3 5* 2 14 4 1 4 1 3 4 1 10 13* 13* 6 9 6* 18*

RUN TRANSCRIPT As long as I know In China the main reason for decline of the number of international students The process of the getting the visa because I personally experienced this one before I came here and it took me twice to get my visa and absolutely theres no other Improve

LENGTH RUN TRANSCRIPT 5* I'm quite acquainted with this passage. 9 1 4 5* 5* 4 6 9 2 13 6 7 7 8 5* 10 5 8 3 I think the The first one More people come back to their home countries found that they can have more respect well paid So that makes their that make make one of their choice to go back and the other reason is the United States foreign people are not treated equally as native persons So native people So get into the Top management level of a company that make them make the US US less attractive so they are willing to go back to their home countries I think this trend will make a loss of United State for a High quality people in computer science or in other high technology areas 16* two reasons

12* and the could be well good

improvement of my materials next the second time I dont know why they would they wont issue me a visa the first time and I think this trend will not be better in the short time actually I don't know why and It's hard to predict and I think this decline may cause the the decrease of the international student and will decrease the This the very good students from all the world

11* People

12* They could not

108 Although the participant in Table 5.3 spoke at a faster rate and uttered more total syllables in the second speech sample (181 vs 174), a higher percentage of the speech run were five syllables or fewer in length (57% in Sample 2 vs 42% in Sample 1) and a smaller percentage of run were 12 syllables or longer (13% in Sample 1 vs 17% in Sample 2). It should also be noted that fewer of the pauses in the second speech sample occurred at phrasal boundaries (26% in Sample 2 vs 33% in Sample 1). In summary, although this speaker improved her speaking rate from the first to second speech sample, the speech run that were uttered tended to be shorter in length and were more frequently interrupted by pauses that did not fall at grammatical boundaries. This information, together with the information about mean length of run presented in the previous section, point to the advantages of using mean length of run in future studies on fluency.

5.5. Discussion of Exit-Survey Results The exit surveys were important in that they provided insight into the impressions that each participant had toward the learning environment to which she or he had been assigned. As discussed in Chapter 2, considerable research has been already been done on the attitudes of learners regarding various types of distance learning environments. Such research has immediate application for course designers and instructors who can use this information to make their distance courses more appealing to the learners. Several observations from the current study may enhance this body of knowledge. First, data from the exit surveys suggest that learner impressions of a distance learning course do not necessarily match the measurable learning outcomes. Although the participants in the Internet Chat group made significantly stronger gains in fluency than the participants in the Face-to-Face group, the exit surveys show that participants in the Face-to-Face group were more confident that they had made gains in fluency. Participants in the Face-to-

109 Face group were also more confident that they had developed their listening ability during the course, although these and the other learning outcomes mentioned on the survey were not measured over the six-week period. A plausible explanation for the discrepancy between the survey results and the actual measured fluency outcomes is that second language students have a bias against distance learning environments that claim to improve oral language ability. This would not be surprisingly considering the fact that nearly all of the current approaches to building second language oral proficiency are based on a face-to-face classroom model. As stated in the opening of this dissertation, few studies up to this point have examined the potential of distance learning environments for improving second language oral fluency, and until such approaches are developed and positive learning outcomes reported, it seems unlikely that the bias of learners will change. A second observation is that although the Internet Chat group participants were less confident about the development of their fluency (and listening) abilities during the course, their opinions about the course were as positive or more positive than those in the Face-to-Face group. The one exception is that slightly fewer participants in the Internet Chat group strongly agreed that they had felt connected to other students in the course. These results suggest that while language learners may be biased against on-line chat environments for improving fluency, they may nevertheless be receptive to the idea that such environments are useful in the language learning process. An additional question that should have been included in the survey is one that measures the extent to which the participant had participated in on-line chat technology prior to the study. One may speculate that learners with greater exposure to such technology would feel more comfortable with and thereby have better overall impressions of an on-line such as the one in this study. Results from the exit survey also suggest that interaction is an important factor for the success of an on-line language learning course. Although participants in the Control group completed similar on-line activities as those in

110 the Face-to-Face and Internet Chat groups, they did not engage in any regular form of learner-learner or even learner-instructor interaction during the six week period. This was the critical difference in the design of the Control and Internet Chat group coursesboth of which were taught entirely on-line and it is the most plausible explanation for overall more negative feedback from the Control group participants. The one question to which the Control group gave more positive responses than the Internet Chat group was the question regarding the development of listening skills during the course. The positive responses from the Control group on this item may reflect the fact that almost the entire Control group curriculum was based on activities related to the news item listening passages. These results appear to bode well for the many listening websites that are currently available to ESL learners on the Internet.

5.6. Pedagogical Implications As already discussed, the study provides strong support for the notion that second language learners can improve their oral fluency in an on-line text-based chat environment. However, the research does not suggest that any type of chat environment will be useful for developing fluency. The interaction that took place in this experimental course was constantly guided by the instructor. With the exception of the first and last five minutes, each class was highly structured and required that participants stay focused on the discussion or vocabulary activities at hand. In contrast, it has been the researchers observation that the text-based chat rooms on ESL learning websites are very unstructured with little guidance from the instructor. In these environments, participants come and go at will and generally are not pushed to use English. In such environments, it seems unlikely that any real gains in fluency could be made. On-line language learning has been heralded as a possible solution to the growing demand for ESL instructionespecially overseas. While the high fluency gains score of the Internet Chat group seem to support this, another

111 aspect of the study raises additional questions. When teaching the course, the researcher observed that four to six participants was the ideal size for a textbased chat room. On the days when the number of participants was higher than six, it was difficult to involve all of the participants in the discussion. On the class periods when the number of participants was three or less, the environment because much less formal and it was more difficult to direct the session like a class. Although ideal for the learners, the low student-teacher ratio requirement raises the concern that such ESL environments may not be economically or logistically feasible Perhaps a more viable application of on-line chats is in a hybrid environment in which students meet together in a chat room at scheduled times between the regular face-to-face sessions. This would give students the opportunity to use the vocabulary and language structures they are learning in the traditional classroom environment and thus provide an extension of the formal classroom experience. Such chat rooms could be lead or monitored by a teaching assistant or graduate student who is looking for experience in such a setting. As already discussed, one advantage of the text based chat environment is that it allows the language leaner to see the grammatical structures and vocabulary items that are being used by the other language users. For visual learners, the supplemental chat room sessions could prove to be a very useful way of grasping the material that has been taught in class.

5.7. Limitations of the Study An obvious limitation of the study is the small sample size of 34 participants. Although the design of the study called for 48 participants (16 in each group), attrition during the first week left the study with far fewer. It is fortunate, however, that the rate of attrition was relatively equal across groups, so that no one group had fewer than 10 or more than 14 participants. Due to a concern that accepting replacement participants might effect the results of the

112 study (e.g. latecomers would have less classroom time and thus less opportunity to improve fluency), a decision was made not replace any drop-outs after the third day of the study. In hindsight, a better approach to this problem would be to extend the length of the course and allow the first week to be a period of orientation. This would allow time for participants to dropout and be replaced without concern over the effect it might have on fluency development. Another limitation was the relatively short duration of the study. It could be argued that the findings would have been more meaningfuland perhaps more statistically significanthad the three courses been longer than six weeks. This was expressed by a number of participants in the exit survey who expressed disappointment that the course was so short. It is indeed interesting to speculate how lengthening the course might have affected the final results. One possibility is that the participants in each group would have continued to improve in fluency at the same rateleading to higher overall gain scores across all three groups but with the same degree of difference between groups. An alternative possibility is that the rate of improvement would perhaps decrease with the Internet Chat group and increase with the Face-to-Face group as the length of the course is extended, thus decreasing the difference between groups in the end. But such a scenario would only seem likely if the learning environment in either group were to change over the course period. The researcher observed that it was more difficult to keep the Internet Chat group participants engaged in the course material over the final week (perhaps because the participants were tiring of some aspect of the on-line environment) and so it is possible that this would have led to the above scenario had the course length been extended. A third limitation of the study is related to the fluency variables that were employed. Although previous research has indicated that MLR and SR are two reliable temporal variables for measuring fluency, the research decided to include 5 fluency variables in the study. This decision was not based on the desire to engage in a fishing expedition (e.g. looking for a fluency gain on one variable) but rather on an interest to explore the relationship between fluency variables and

113 see first-hand which variables performed the best. At the time, the researcher had not considered the fact that doing so would lessen the chanced of finding statistical significance on any one variable due to the need to perform the Bonferroni adjustment and account for experiment-wise error rates. In future studies of this kind, the researcher will employ only the MLR variable to measure development of fluency.

5.8. Direction for Future Research Having established that the Internet Chat participants in the current study made greater gains in fluency than the participants in the Face-to-Face and Control groups, a first question that arises is would similar results be found if the study were to be replicated. Similar findings in a future study would lend additional support to Levelts model of language production and continue to raise interesting possibilities for implementing text-based chat rooms in language learning environments. Beyond replication, future research should examine variables that could affect fluency acquisition in an Internet chat environment. For example, to what degree is fluency acquisition shaped by factors such as language and cultural background, age, and experience with chat room conventions? Or, is fluency acquisition enhanced when the chat room learners vocalize the sentences that they are typing in the computer? Beyond the chat room variables, future research should also examine whether the measurable outcomes are transferred to other communication environments. While the findings from this study clearly indicate that the Internet Chat group participants made greater pretest to posttest fluency gains than their counterparts, it remains unclear whether the gains in fluency would also be detected by a group of trained raters or by other students or instructors who interact with the participants on a regular basis. The fact that one of the Control group participants reported that her TESOL score jumped to passing level after she took this fluency course provides some initial evidence that there may have

114 been some learning transfer even among he Control group participants in this study. A study such as this one provides a rich repository of language data that could be analyzed in a number of ways. For example, the chat logs could be analyzed to understand whether there is a correlation between on-line participation and pretest to posttest gains in fluency. Recorded and transcribed conversations from the face-to-face classroom would provide similar data for those participants. The language data collected via the pretests and posttests could also be analyzed to determine the qualitative changes that occur when speakers become more fluent. For example, to what degree do the pauses in the more fluent speech samples fall at phrasal boundaries? Do run of speech include more prefabricated expressions when fluency increases? Is there a correlation between the types of expressions that are taught in class and the expressions that are produced in the posttest speech samplese.g. does the classroom material directly transfer to the test environment? These and other questions could be better understood through the qualitative analysis of data from a study like this.

5.9. Conclusion This study is one of the first to explore whether oral fluency can be improved through a text-based on-line chat environment. The finding that participants in the Internet chat environment demonstrated greater fluency gains than participants in the face-to-face environment has been explained by Levelts , model of language production and Towel, et als interpretation of this model. This model provides support for the notion that fluency is developed at the level of the Formulator, prior to articulation. Thus, no matter whether a person is speaking, typing, or signing a language, the critical factor is not the means by which the language is used but that it is used. The strong performance of the Internet Chat group can be further explained by the unique dynamics of the chat

115 room environment that allowed the learners to make simultaneous and thus more frequent contributions to the classroom discussion. In contrast, the conventions of turn-taking in the face-to-face classroom limited the amount of opportunity for learners to use the target language. In addition to being one of the first studies to explore whether text based chats can be used to improve oral fluency, as such, it is also one of the first studies to employ temporal measures to examine this question. The five temporal measures selected for this study have been used in other studies with varying degrees of success. This study confirmed that mean length of run is the most salient of the five variables. Although speaking rate is most strongly correlated with the other variables, it appears that it may be not be as meaningful a measure as mean length of run. It is suggested that future studies of this type use only the mean length of run measure.

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APPENDICES

128 Appendix A. Flier Used in Recruiting Participants

129 Appendix B. Questions Used in the Initial Follow-Up / Screening of Prospective Participants

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

First of all, would you please tell me your name? And what is your e-mail address and telephone number? May I ask what country you are from? What is your native language? Are you a student at Purdue University? If so, are you a full or part time

student? 6. Have you ever taken the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

or another similar English exam? 7. (If yes to above question) And do you remember what score you got on

the test? 8. Do you have experience in using computers? If so, how comfortable do

you feel with them? 9. 10. Do you have access to a computer and the Internet at home? Finally, will you be available to participate in this study between March 10

and April 30?

130 Appendix C. Course Information Packet Distributed to the Control Group Participants

131

132

133

134

135

136

137 Appendix D. Course Information Packet Distributed to the On-Line Internet Chat group Participants

138

139

140

141

142

143

144

145

146 Appendix E. Course Information Packet Distributed to the Face-to-Face Group Participants

147

148

149

150

151

152

153

154 Appendix F. Pretest Prompt

155 Appendix G. Posttest Prompt

156 Appendix H. Exit Survey Administered to Control Group Participants

157 Appendix I. Exit Survey Administered to Face-to-Face Group Participants

158 Appendix J. Exit Survey Administered to Internet Chat group Participants

159 Appendix K. Face-to-Face group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey

160

1) Thank you for very good English class. Thanks to you, I can know more things and speak more comfortably than before. Especially, I like your class because it was interactive. Students could communicate freely without any pressure. And I was very happy when you respond to me very kindly whenever I asked about something. Thank you so much and maybe I mightn't forget this beautiful time with you. I hope I will have another chance to meet you and you will be a good professor. Please let us know when you find a job. We can arrange a party for you. Thank you! 2) This English class helped me to improve my vocabulary. I wish it were here longer so we can gain more from it. 3) This course comes in handy for everybody who takes. After I took it, I feel my oral English made good headway. I learned more expressions to use. I just want to say this course is very wonderful. I feel very comfortable in class. Also I made som friends from my class. If it has any chances, I will take this class again. Chris is a wonderful teacher. He has many good ways to express and explain to us. Let know understand easily. Thank you very much Chris. 4) I think this English course was very helpful for me. I like this way to learn English. I would like to take this course in the future if it will be possible. But I would like to 112 lessons and not 12 in future. I like it very much. Thank you. 5) I think the class is very good. It help me know a lot of idioms and slangs. Suggestion: I hope the time should more longer in face-to-face class. Maybe two hours is better. 6) I hope this class can last more time, because you know only one hour every week. I think five or less is better. Anyway, I learned a gobs of useful knowledge in this class, especially in listening and new expression part. Thank you!

161 7) The course is very helpful for international student and the instructor is very nice. The topic of course is also interesting. If the schedule of course can change to weekend it would be better, and I also hope the time of course can be longer like one and half hour. Anyway, the course is very good. If there is one more chance. I want to take it again. 8) Overall the class is very helpful to me to improve my English communication skill. I think some part of activities in the web doesn't make too much sense to me. Such as sequencing. 9) The course is kind of short. If it is longer it would be more helpful. 10) What I suggest is the class time become longer than one hour 11) I think we could talk about the things we get involved everyday, liking shopping, items used in kitchen, way to cook, etc. Because I found that sometimes I can't find a proper way to mention little common things in daily life instead of certain topics. More practices are needed. If we increase the frequency we met, it would be better. Thank you a lot. 12) How about homework for each classes? Fore example, bring on-line quiz before class or finish the assignment within any given weekends.

162 Appendix L. Internet Chat group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey

163 1) I felt very comfortable with the course because I could have an English class at home and take care of my baby too. For me sometimes it is difficult to have a study routine. (I don't know if you can say that in English, but what I try to say is to have a specific hour at the day in which I study English), but with the course I finally could do it! I just want to say that the course was very helpful for me, but unfortunately it was for me too short. 2) I like this course very much. Even though the participants in our group did not meet in the classroom we all felt like face-to-face talking. Overall I think it is a very successful class. 3) It will be much better if the chatter room can be built on a multi-media system which means we can listen and speak really! 4) Course was well organized and prepared. We've learned a lot from each lesson. One point I might point out is that as there is no exam (grade or some else) pressure, the effect may not be very significant. Overall, it's a good course to learn American culture as well as language and we've also learned a lot from people from other countries. 5) Thank you for the nice opportunity. I learned the English by using my eyes, hands (typing) and hearing. It worked for me very much. Thank you! 6) On-line chatting room is great fun for me and I thnk more helpful. If there are camera or headset, it is so amazing change. I think the white board also wonderful and you are really good at teaching and make correcting. Making correcting is the most important for us. I had a good time this chatting room. 7) Thank you for giving me these classes. I enjoyed taking this course, and I think I am better to speak English (than) before I took this course. I think because of typing English freely (not caring my mistakes so much). The one thing that I concerned about is listening. Maybe it would be my computer problem, but you materials (CNN news) didn't provide clear sounds. They cracked. However, I am happy to have taken this course! Thank you.

164 Appendix M. Control group Responses to Open Ended Question on Exit Survey

165 1) If there is a part about speaking (e.g. on-line talk or recording a short talk) it will be better. 2) In my case, I didn't have any connection to other student. Just I studied every week by myself. I think if I could meet other student, the course would be more helpful for me. for example we discuss something with using the new words or idioms. 3) I thought face-to-face course is more important to me. Sometimes I am a little bit lazy to go on-line to study. 4) The course helped me to improve my listening skills. Before this course, I took the TOEFL exam and I got the listening section 15. On the April 29th, I got the TOEFL again, also last day of the course. So my listening score is 25. It is unbelievable. This course is perfect for listening and learning new vocabulary. However reading and new expression section can be more practical. Overall this course is a perfect course I had ever took. Thanks. 5) I very enjoy taking English course by face to face. We can make conversation a lots. It can help me to improve my speaking fastly. I also very enjoy the online English course, even though I wasn't able to listen the course a lots because of my computer. I learned a lot of vocabulary and some American culture. I a very enjoyed doing activity homework. I am planning re-study next month. Thank you very much for teacher. Thanks for him get me a opportunity to study this English course. 6) Some of the video clips are not clear and sometimes quality of the new are not satisfactory. WWW.CNN is a very good cit. Quiz questions are too easy. Generally quite helpful. 7) I do like the expression activity part. I learned a lot of phrases from that section. The course website is eay to use even for the beginner. I would say this course website is well designed and helpful fto the the English speaking improved. Finally thanks for offering me this opportunity to learn more English.

166 8) I would have liked exercises that force me to write my opinions down. So the exercises were very easy except the sequencing thing. I did not like this exercise because I was always wrong. 10 ) The best method to imoprove a foreigners English level, I think, is conversation face by face. Since language is just a tool for us to communicate with each other. So I strongly advised that a chat room class is a very good form of studying English in real classroom or online chat room through microphone.

VITA

167

VITA

Christopher Grant Blake Department of English Purdue University 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907 ________________________________________________________________ Education

Doctorate of Philosophy, English Language Linguistics, August 2006 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN Secondary Area: Education Technology Advisor: April J. Ginther Master of Science in Education, Educational Studies, May 1999 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN Bachelor of Arts, Secondary English Education, May 1993 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN Summa Cum Laude

Conference Presentations
Blake, C.G., (2005, July) Revision of an ITA Curriculum: A Case Study. In A. J. Ginther (Chair), Toward an Ecological Approach to International Teaching Assistant Preparation, Symposium conducted at the 14th World Conference of Applied Linguistics, Madison, Wisconsin. Blake. C.G. (2005, July) Now shes fluent Now shes not: Issues in defining and measuring fluency from a World Englishes perspective. Paper presented at the 11th Annual International Association for World Englishes Conference, Purdue University. Blake, C.G, & Zhen, Z. (2003, March) The Potential of CALL in China. Paper presented at TESOL 2003, Baltimore, Maryland. Blake, C.G. (2002, October) A Sociolinguistic Profile of English in China. Paper presented at the 9th Annual International Association for World Englishes Conference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig

168 Graduate Coursework


Linguistics Introduction to English and General Linguistics Sociolinguistics World Englishes English Syntax and Syntactic Theory Phonology English Second Language Second Language Writing English Second Language Theory and Foundations English Second Language Principles and Practice Education International Education Comparative Education Administration in Education Systems The American College and University Personal Dynamics in the Classroom Counseling Multicultural and Diverse Populations Testing Language Testing Research Methodology Introduction to Education Research Methodology Higher Education Law Methods in Social Research Qualitative Research Methods in Education Research Design in Language and Linguistics Education Technology Foundations of Distance Education Strategic Evaluation of On-Line Learning Issues and Methods in Education Technology Research

169 Teaching
Domestic Higher Education English 002: Written Communication for International Graduate Students Purdue University, Fall 2005 English 227: Elements of Linguistics Purdue University, Spring 2005 English 001T: Classroom Communication for International Teaching Purdue University, Fall 2001 - Fall 2004 English Composition Tutor Purdue University Writing Lab, 1991- 1993 Dean of Students Tutor Horizons Program, Purdue University, 1991- 1992 Overseas Teaching Advanced College Composition Changchun, P.R.China. College of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Fall 1993 - Spring 1995 Business English for College Seniors Changchun, P.R.China. College of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Fall 1993 - Spring 1995 Band-4 ESL Prep Course Changchun, P.R.China. College of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Fall 1993 Spring 1995 Assistants

Academic Employment
ESL Program Assistant Director Purdue University June 1999-August 2001 Advisor & Summer Programs Coordinator Purdue Programs for Study Abroad

September 1996 - June 1999

170
Coordinator, Purdue International Friendship Program Purdue International Students & Scholars Office July 1998 - June 1999 Immigration Clerk Purdue International Students & Scholars Office August 1995 - July 1996 Instructor of English College of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Changchun, P.R. China August 1993 May 1995

Academic Service
Local Committee Member International Association for World Englishes Conference July 2005 Guest Speaker Technology Workshop for Teachers Purdue Village ESL Program Spring 2003 Assistant to the Chief Editor Books One-Four, New Practical English (Comprehensive Course), Beijing: China Higher Education Press, 2003

Community and International Service


Childrens Ministry Coordinator Upper Room Christian Fellowship, West Lafayette, IN July 2000 May 2006 Boy Scouts of America West Lafayette, IN August 2005 May New Chauncey Neighborhood Association West Lafayette, IN July 2000-May 2006 Y.W.A.M (Youth With a Mission) Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand September 1988-February 1989 International Students and Scholars Office Purdue University 1989-1993

171

Honors, Awards and Affiliations


Honors Phi Beta Kappa Phi Kappa Phi Deans List, Purdue University Awards First Prize: Kneale Literary Award, Papers in ESL Category, 2002 First Prize: Kneale Literary Award, Shakespeare Category, 1993 Outstanding Senior Award, Purdue University English Department, 1993 Affiliations Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) International Association for World Englishes (IAWE)

References
April Ginther, Associate Professor of English Director of Oral English Proficiency Program (OEPP) Oral English Proficiency Program 302 Wood Street 810 Young Hall West Lafayette, IN 47907-2108 Tel: (765) 494-9380 E-mail: aginther@purdue.edu Margie Berns, Professor of English Director of Graduate Program in English as a Second Language (ESL) Department of English, Purdue University 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907 Tel: (765) 494-3769 E-mail: berns@purdue.edu Tony Silva, Professor of English Director of ESL Writing Program Department of English, Purdue University 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907 Tel: (765) 494-3769 E-mail: tony@purdue.edu