The effects of noticing training, model input and task repetition on L2 speech production
Task repetition (TR) has shown to be facilitative of oral fluency for L2 learners. However, the effects of TR on the grammatical accuracy of learners’ speech performance remain unclear, with learners often carrying over errors from an initial delivery to the iteration(s). In order to target accuracy, it has been suggested (e.g. Ellis, 2009) that some kind of reflection is required by the learner on their initial performance before engaging in a repeat performance. The primary aim of this study was to examine whether L2 learners could be trained to a) notice linguistic gaps in their initial performance of a speaking task and mine model input to fill those gaps, and b) notice gaps in the way they used language and the way a model speaker used language to complete the same oral narrative task. A further aim was to investigate how noticing training impacts on L2 speech performance as measured by complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF). Thirty-six ESL students took part in one of three groups: Guided Noticing (GN), Unguided Noticing (UN), and Control (C). Participants in all three groups completed a pre-test, a post-test, and a delayed post-test. Each test involved four stages: 1) participants’ performance of an oral narrative task based on a picture sequence, 2) a stimulated recall session conducted by the researcher with each participant to identify what gaps they noticed in their interlanguage while performing the task (i.e. inter-language gaps [IL-gaps]), 3) a comparison stage where the participants listened and noted linguistic differences between a recording of their initial performance and a recording of a model speaker performing the same task (i.e. they noted interlanguage – target language gaps [IL-TL gaps]), and 4) a repeat performance by participants of the same narrative task. Stages 1, 2 and 4 were audio recorded and transcribed. Stage 1 was also video recorded for use in Stage 2 (stimulated recall). Between the pre- and post-tests, each group took part in three training sessions. Training sessions involved three stages: 1) all participants performed an oral narrative task based on a picture sequence, 2) they then completed 7.5 minutes of training, and 3) they repeated the same oral narrative task. The training stage (Stage 2) differed according to group. Training for the GN Group involved the use of a guided noticing prompt designed to direct their attention to the formal features of their output and of model input. Training for the UN Group involved the use of an unguided noticing prompt designed not to direct their attention to any particular aspect of their output nor of model input, and training for the C Group involved 7.5 minutes of pronunciation practice unrelated to the narrative task. Participants’ oral performances were analysed from all training and testing sessions for a range of measures of CAF. Stimulated recall transcripts from testing sessions were also analysed to determine the nature and number of the gaps they noticed in their output (IL-gaps), and participants’ note-paper from Stage 3 of the tests was analysed for the number of gaps they noticed between their output and the model input (IL-TL gaps). The findings revealed that following training (i.e. in post-tests) the GN Group noticed significantly more grammar-related IL-gaps compared to the UN and C Groups. Furthermore, this increased noticing by the GN Group resulted in significantly greater accuracy in their oral output compared to the UN and C Groups when given the chance to repeat a task. Importantly, this increased grammatical accuracy for the GN Group occurred while maintaining rates of fluency. Examination of participants’ speech performance in training sessions suggested that the provision of model input in testing sessions mitigated gains in fluency that might otherwise have been made. The findings are explained in terms of the type of training provided to each group and how it impacted upon speech production. Theoretical and pedagogic implications are also discussed.