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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 10, 2016

Ladders and Snakes in Second Language Fluency

Peter Skehan, Pauline Foster and Sabrina Shum


This article reports a study comparing first and second language fluency during narrative retelling tasks of varying degrees of tightness in structural organisation, exploring in particular a distinction between discourse-based and clause-based fluency. We argue that positive and negative influences on fluency are linked to the Conceptualiser and Formulator stages of Levelt’s model of speaking. Task structure and degree of subordination, which were related to greater fluency for both native and non-native speakers, are Conceptualiser and discourse oriented. Formulaic language, which was also related to fluency, is more Formulator and clause oriented. Contrastingly, higher lexical sophistication and longer clauses are associated with clause-linked fluency problems, but only for native speakers.


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Published Online: 2016-6-10
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

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