Factors Affecting the Second Language Learners' Fluency.

Topics: Language acquisition, Linguistics, Second language acquisition Pages: 6 (2167 words) Published: May 24, 2011
Factors Affecting the Second Language Learners' Fluency.
Although oral proficiency is a central goal of the language teaching, too little attention has been paid to the complex of factors that underlie the fluent of speech. This problem may encounter most second language teachers and learners. I have chosen to write about factors affecting the second language learners' fluency (SLLF) in order to increase teachers' awareness about these factors and to enable teachers to improve second language learners' fluency. Though there are different perspectives of these factors: sociolinguistic, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic. This essay is going to focus on the sociolinguistic factors in particular due to space limitations. The major goal, which is also the main question, is to identify the social factors which affect second language learner's fluency. This will involve also some sub- questions such as: What is fluency? Are there different types of fluency? Do social factors have the same influence on (SLLF) or not? Theoretical background To answer the research question and the sub-questions, I will rely on different writings related to the subject such as books, articles and electronic resources. Proficiency and Fluency One of the problems which faced many researchers is to define fluency accurately. Leeson (1975:136) suggested that fluency is the faculty of the speaker to create limitlessly many sentences following sound system, form and meaning requirements of a given natural language. Fillmore (1979:92) defined fluency as the capability to converse extendedly with little discontinuation and to be able to occupy the time with talk. Hammerly (1991:41) differentiated between three related concepts: second language (SL) competence, proficiency and performance. SL competence is defined as knowledge about, and ability to use, an SL in terms of three components, these are, linguistic, communicative, and cultural competence. SL proficiency stresses survival in communicative situations, with lesser focus on the language. SL performance is the linguistic, communicative and / or cultural behavior itself. It is based on knowledge, how to communicate in it, and how to behave in the second culture. Cummins (1983) differentiated two types of proficiency. Basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) are the abilities necessary for verbal fluency and sociolinguistic properness. They progress normally due to contact with a language through communication. Cognitive/ academic language proficiency (CALP) is comprised of the linguistic awareness and literacy skills needed for academic work. On the other hand, Pawley and Syder (1983:191) regarded native- like fluency as ‘…the capability to produce fluent stretches of discourse’. Lennon (1990, 2000) pointed out that fluency has two aspects. The broad aspect, fluency appears to be universal oral proficiency i.e. a fluent speaker has an outstanding ability or skill to use the L2. The narrow aspect, fluency may be one of many constituents of oral proficiency; it is the listener’s feeling that the speaker’s speech outcome is easily produced in an appropriate and efficient way. Lennon (2000:26) proposed that fluency is a quick, flexible, precise, comprehensible, and effective reflection of thought or communicative intention into language. Moreover, Hedge (2000:56) stated that ‘… fluency means responding coherently within the turns of the conversation , linking words and phrases, using comprehensible pronunciation and appropriate intonation, and doing all of this without excessive hesitation’ .In other words, it is the capability to put segments of speech together with lucidity and ease without difficulty , inappropriate slowness , or immoderate pausing.

In addition, Faerch, Haastrup, and Phillipson (1984:168) listed three types of fluency: semantic fluency is linking together propositions and speech acts, lexical-syntactic fluency is linking together syntactic components and words, and...

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