The relationship between task difficulty and second language fluency in French : a mixed-methods approach

Préfontaine, Yvonne and Kormos, Judit (2015) The relationship between task difficulty and second language fluency in French : a mixed-methods approach. Modern Language Journal, 99 (1). pp. 96-112. ISSN 0026-7902

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While there exists a considerable body of literature on task-based difficulty and second language (L2) fluency in English as a second language (ESL), there has been little investigation with French learners. This mixed-methods study examines learner appraisals of task difficulty and their relationship to automated utterance fluency measures in French under three different task conditions. Participants were 40 adult learners of French at varying levels of proficiency studying in a university immersion context in Québec. Appraisal of task difficulty was assessed quantitatively by participants’ self-reports in response to a five-item questionnaire and qualitatively by retrospective interviews. Utterance fluency was operationalized by four temporal variables and measured by Praat, a speech analysis software program. Across tasks, the quantitative results indicate that appraisals of lexical retrieval difficulty and fluency difficulty were most strongly related to perceived overall task difficulty. The qualitative analysis shows how L2 speakers evaluated the difficulty of each task as well as the features that either contributed to or limited their L2 fluency. Students’ fluency in performing the three tasks was found to differ for articulation rate and average pause time, but not for pause frequency or phonation-time ratio.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Modern Language Journal
Additional Information:
This is the pre-print version of the following article:Préfontaine, Y. and Kormos, J. (2015), The Relationship Between Task Difficulty and Second Language Fluency in French: A Mixed Methods Approach. The Modern Language Journal, 99: 96–112. doi: 10.1111/modl.12186 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? second language learningl2 fluencyspeech elicitation taskstask difficultynarrative tasksspeech productionlinguistics and languagelanguage and linguistics ??
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Deposited On:
17 Nov 2014 10:06
Last Modified:
29 Feb 2024 00:48