Helene Stengers, Frank Boers, Alex Housen, June Eyckmans
November 21, 2011
This paper investigates the extent to which productive use of formulaic sequences by intermediate students of two typologically different languages, i.e., English and Spanish, is associated with their oral proficiency in these languages. Previous research (e.g., Boers et al., Language Teaching Research 10: 245–261, 2006) has shown that appropriate use of formulaic sequences helps learners of English come across as fluent and idiomatic speakers. The evidence from the present study, which was conducted with the participation of Dutch-speaking students of English and Spanish, confirms that finding, as oral proficiency assessments based on re-tell tasks correlated positively with the number of formulaic sequences the students used in these tasks. The correlations were strongest in the English language samples, however. It seems that the greater incidence of morphological-inflectional errors in our participants' spoken Spanish dampens the contribution that using formulaic sequences tends to make to their oral proficiency (as perceived by our assessors). The findings are discussed with reference to typological differences between L1 and L2.