Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1931
  • E-ISSN: 2215-194X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Second language (L2) scholars generally agree that pronunciation development should prioritize understandable over nativelike speech. However, which linguistic features enable understanding lacks clarity. While monologic research indicates a combined effect of segmental and suprasegmental measures, interactive research has emphasized a segmental focus. The current study takes a step in addressing this divide by applying a monologic methodology to interactive speech. 20 L2 English learners completed one interactive and three monologic tasks. 36 native listeners rated each speaker per task for comprehensibility. I additionally coded all utterances for a series of phonological and fluency measures. Surprisingly, segmental and suprasegmental measures had minimal impact on listerners’ ratings. Instead, ratings for the two more linguistically-constrained monologic tasks demonstrated stronger associations with fluency measures than the less-constrained monologic and interactive tasks. This finding is likely an effect of (a) increased cognitive task demands placed on speakers, and (b) listener familiarity with L2 English speech.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bergeron, A., & Trofimovich, P.
    (2017) Linguistic dimensions of accentedness and comprehensibility: Exploring task and listener effects in second language French. Foreign Language Annals, 50(3), 547–566. 10.1111/flan.12285
    https://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12285 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bowles, M. A., Toth, P. D., & Adams, R. J.
    (2014) A comparison of L2-L2 and L2-heritage learner interactions in Spanish language classrooms. Modern Language Journal, 92(2), 497–517. 10.1111/modl.12086
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12086 [Google Scholar]
  3. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2016) Linguistic dimensions of second language accent and comprehensibility: Nonnative listeners’ perspectives. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 2(2), 160–182. 10.1075/jslp.2.2.02cro
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.2.2.02cro [Google Scholar]
  4. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., Isaacs, T., & Saito, K.
    (2015a) Does a speaking task affect second language comprehensibility?The Modern Language Journal, 99, 80–95. 10.1111/modl.12185
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12185 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2018) Linguistic dimensions of L2 accentedness and comprehensibility vary across speaking tasks. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(2), 443–457. 10.1017/S027226311700016X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S027226311700016X [Google Scholar]
  6. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., Saito, K., & Isaacs, T.
    (2015b) Second language comprehensibility revisited: Investing the effects of learner background. TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 814–837. 10.1002/tesq.203
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.203 [Google Scholar]
  7. Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J.
    (2015) Pronunciation fundamentals: Evidence-based perspectives for L2 teaching and research. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. 10.1075/lllt.42
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.42 [Google Scholar]
  8. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I.
    (2008) A longitudinal study of ESL learners’ fluency and comprehensibility development. Applied Linguistics, 29(3), 359–380. 10.1093/applin/amm041
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amm041 [Google Scholar]
  9. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Thomson, R. I., & Rossiter, M. J.
    (2009) The relationship between L1 fluency and L2 fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 31(4), 553–557. 10.1017/S0272263109990015
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263109990015 [Google Scholar]
  10. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., & Wiebe, G.
    (1998) Evidence in favor of a broad framework for pronunciation instruction. Language Learning, 48(3), 393–410. 10.1111/0023‑8333.00047
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00047 [Google Scholar]
  11. Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I.
    (2004) Second language fluency: Judgments on different tasks. Language Learning, 54(4), 655–679. 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2004.00282.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2004.00282.x [Google Scholar]
  12. Educational Testing Service
    Educational Testing Service (2012) The official guide to the TOEFL test (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Ejzenberg, R.
    (2000) The juggling act of oral fluency: A psycho-sociolinguistic metaphor. InH. Riggenbach (ed.), Perspectives on fluency (pp.287–313). Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Field, J.
    (2005) Intelligibility and the listener: The role of lexical stress. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 399–423. 10.2307/3588487
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588487 [Google Scholar]
  15. Galaczi, E. D.
    (2008) Peer–peer interaction in a speaking test: The case of the First Certificate in English examination. Language Assessment Quarterly, 5(2), 89–119. 10.1080/15434300801934702
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434300801934702 [Google Scholar]
  16. Gallois, C., Ogay, T., & Giles, H.
    (2005) Communication accommodation theory: A look back and a look ahead. InW. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp.121–148). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gass, S., & Varonis, E. M.
    (1984) The effect of familiarity on the comprehensibility of nonnative speech. Language Learning, 34, 65–89. 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1984.tb00996.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1984.tb00996.x [Google Scholar]
  18. Gurzynski-Weiss, L., & Baralt, M.
    (2014) Exploring learner perception and use of task-based interactional feedback in FTF and CMC modes. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 36, 1–37. 10.1017/S0272263113000363
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263113000363 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hilton, H.
    (2008) The link between vocabulary knowledge and spoken L2 fluency. The Language Learning Journal, 36(2), 153–166. 10.1080/09571730802389983
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09571730802389983 [Google Scholar]
  20. International English Language Testing System
    International English Language Testing System (2009) Cambridge IELTS 7: Examination papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations: English for speakers of other languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. International English Language Testing System
    International English Language Testing System (2011) Cambridge IELTS 8: Examination papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations: English for speakers of other languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Isaacs, T., & Thomson, R. I.
    (2013) Rater experience, rating scale length, and judgments of L2 pronunciation: Revisiting research conventions. Language Assessment Quarterly, 10(2), 135–159. 10.1080/15434303.2013.769545
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2013.769545 [Google Scholar]
  23. Issacs, T., & Trofimovich, P.
    (2012) Deconstructing comprehensibility: Identifying the linguistic influences on listeners’ L2 comprehensibility ratings. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34(3), 475–505. 10.1017/S0272263112000150
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263112000150 [Google Scholar]
  24. Isbell, D., Park, O.–S., & Lee, K.
    (2019) Learning Korean pronunciation: Effects of instruction, proficiency, and L1. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 5, 13–48. 10.1075/jslp.17010.isb
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.17010.isb [Google Scholar]
  25. Jenkins, J.
    (2000) The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Kang, O.
    (2010) Relative salience of suprasegmental features on judgments of L2 comprehensibility and accentedness. System, 38(2), 301–315. 10.1016/j.system.2010.01.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2010.01.005 [Google Scholar]
  27. Kang, O., Rubin, D. L., & Pickering, L.
    (2010) Suprasegmental measures of accentedness and judgments of language learner proficiency in oral English. Modern Language Journal, 94(4), 554–566. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2010.01091.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2010.01091.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Kang, O., Thomson, R. I., & Moran, M.
    (2018) Empirical approaches to measuring the intelligibility of different varieties of English in predicting listener comprehension. Language Learning, 68, 115–146. 10.1111/lang.12270
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12270 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kennedy, S., Guénette, D., Murphy, J., & Allard, S.
    (2015) Le rôle de la prononciation dans l’intercompréhension entre locuteurs de français lingua franca [The role of pronunciation in comprehension between speakers of French as a lingua franca]. Canadian Modern Language Review, 71, 1–25. 10.3138/cmlr.2139
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.2139 [Google Scholar]
  30. Lazarton, A., & Davis, L.
    (2008) A microanalytic perspective on discourse, proficiency, and identity in paired oral assessment. Language Assessment Quarterly, 5(4), 313–335. 10.1080/15434300802457513
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434300802457513 [Google Scholar]
  31. Lee, J., Jang, J., & Plonsky, L.
    (2015) The effectiveness of second language pronunciation instruction: A meta-analysis. Applied Linguistics, 36(3), 345–366. 10.1093/applin/amu040
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu040 [Google Scholar]
  32. Levis, J. M.
    (2005) Changing contexts and shifting paradigms in pronunciation teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 369–377. 10.2307/3588485
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588485 [Google Scholar]
  33. Loewen, S., & Isbell, D.
    (2017) Pronunciation in face-to-face and audio-only synchronous computer-mediated learner interactions. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 39(2), 225–256. 10.1017/S0272263116000449
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263116000449 [Google Scholar]
  34. Michel, M. C., Kuiken, F., & Vedder, I.
    (2007) The influence of complexity in monologic versus dialogic tasks in Dutch L2. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 45(3), 241–259. 10.1515/iral.2007.011
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.2007.011 [Google Scholar]
  35. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M.
    (1995) Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 45, 73–97. 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1995.tb00963.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1995.tb00963.x [Google Scholar]
  36. (2001) Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech: The role of speaking rate. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23(4), 451–468. 10.1017/S0272263101004016
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263101004016 [Google Scholar]
  37. (2006) The functional load principle in ESL pronunciation instruction: An exploratory study. System, 34(4), 520–531. 10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004 [Google Scholar]
  38. Munro, M. J. & Derwing, T. M.
    (2015) A prospective for pronunciation research in the 21st century: A point of view. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 1, 11–42. 10.1075/jslp.1.1.01mun
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.1.1.01mun [Google Scholar]
  39. Nagle, C.
    (2018) Motivation, comprehensibility, and accentedness in L2 Spanish: Investigating motivation as a time-varying predictor of pronunciation development. Modern Language Journal, 102, 199–217. 10.1111/modl.12461
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12461 [Google Scholar]
  40. Ockey, G. J.
    (2009) The effects of group members/ personalities on a test taker’s L2 group oral discussion test scores. Language Testing, 26(2), 161–186. 10.1177/0265532208101005
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532208101005 [Google Scholar]
  41. Ockey, G. J., Koyama, D., & Setoguchi, E.
    (2013) Stakeholder input and test design: A case study on changing the interlocutor familiarity facet of the group oral discussion test. Language Assessment Quarterly, 10(3), 292–308. 10.1080/15434303.2013.769547
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2013.769547 [Google Scholar]
  42. Oppenheimer, D. M.
    (2008) The secret life of fluency. Trends in Cognitive Science, 12(6), 237–241. 10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.014 [Google Scholar]
  43. Pickering, L.
    (2009) Intonation as a pragmatic resource in ELF interaction. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6(2), 235–255. 10.1515/IPRG.2009.013
    https://doi.org/10.1515/IPRG.2009.013 [Google Scholar]
  44. Plonsky, L., & Oswald, F. L.
    (2014) How big is “big”? Interpreting effect sizes in L2 research. Language Learning, 64(4), 878–912. 10.1111/lang.12079
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12079 [Google Scholar]
  45. Robinson, P.
    (2005) Cognitive complexity and task sequencing: Studies in a componential framework for second language task design. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 43, 1–32. 10.1515/iral.2005.43.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.2005.43.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  46. Saito, K., Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2016) Second language speech production: Investigating linguistic correlates of comprehensibility and accentedness for learners at different ability levels. Applied Psycholinguistics37(2), 217–240. 10.1017/S0142716414000502
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716414000502 [Google Scholar]
  47. Scollon, R., Scollon, S. W., & Jones, R. H.
    (2012) Intercultural communication: A discourse approach (3rd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Segalowitz, N.
    (2010) Cognitive bases of second language fluency. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203851357
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203851357 [Google Scholar]
  49. Sewell, A.
    (2017) Functional load revisited: Reinterpreting the findings of ‘lingua franca’ intelligibility studies. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 3, 57–79. 10.1075/jslp.3.1.03sew
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.3.1.03sew [Google Scholar]
  50. Swain, M., & Lapkin, S.
    (1998) Interaction and second language learning: Two adolescent French immersion students working together. The Modern Language Journal, 82(3), 320–337. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.1998.tb01209.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1998.tb01209.x [Google Scholar]
  51. Trofimovich, P., & Baker, W.
    (2006) Learning second language suprasegmentals: Effects of L2 experience on prosody and fluency characteristics of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, 1–30. 10.1017/S0272263106060013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263106060013 [Google Scholar]
  52. Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2012) Disentangling accent from comprehensibility. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(4), 905–916. 10.1017/S1366728912000168
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728912000168 [Google Scholar]
  53. Winke, P., Gass, S., & Myford, C.
    (2013) Raters’ L2 background as a potential source of bias in rating oral performance. Language Testing, 30(2), 231–252. 10.1177/0265532212456968
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532212456968 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): comprehensibility; interaction; second language pronunciation; task effect
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error