Investigation of fluency profiles in English learner speech in comparison with native speech


The aim of this project is to gain insight into the (dis)fluency behavior of learners of English, as compared to native speakers of English. The focus will be on French-speaking learners of English and the approach will be integrated, in the sense of Götz (2013), i.e. it will encompass not only the traditional temporal variables, but also other markers such as the use of discourse markers, reformulations, formulae, and so on.


Main lines of investigation

The first line of investigation is descriptive and aims at giving a comprehensive description of the use of (dis)fluency markers in French-speaking learners’ English, and relating this to native behaviour. On the basis of these descriptions, fluency profiles will be identified among learners and native speakers. Each profile will correspond to a particular combination of features and will contribute to defining different speaker types. The comparison of the fluency profiles of French- and German-speaking learners will be the starting point of an analysis seeking to assess the role of transfer from the mother tongue in learners' use of (dis)fluency markers. Finally, the issue of idiolects will be examined: the data will also be approached from a more individual perspective, looking at each text/speaker separately.



The ENL1/ENL2 comparison will be based on data from the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI; Gilquin et al. 2010) and its native counterpart, the Louvain Corpus of Native English Conversation (LOCNEC; De Cock 2004). Since these corpora were designed according to the same criteria, they are entirely comparable. Within LINDSEI, the focus will be on the French component, but other components of the corpus – especially the German component – will be resorted to sporadically in order to determine the influence of L1 for certain specific markers. For native speech, other corpora will also be exploited in so far as they present a slightly different (but still comparable) “golden standard”. In particular, the corpora collected within the ICE (International Corpus of English) project will be useful as they include a wide range of genres and registers, and also represent different varieties of English.

This project is funded within the framework of a concerted action project on “Fluency and disfluency markers. A multimodal contrastive perspective”, whose aim is to investigate markers of fluency and disfluency in spoken and sign language, focusing on three main modalities: first language discourse (French and English), (advanced) foreign language discourse (English), and sign language (Belgian French).



Gaëtanelle Gilquin & Sylviane Granger



De Cock, S. 2004. Preferred sequences of words in NS and NNS speech. Belgian Journal of English Language and Literatures (BELL), New Series 2, 225–246.
Gilquin, G., Granger, S. & S. De Cock. 2010. The Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage. CD-ROM and Handbook. Louvain: Presses Universitaires de Louvain.
Götz, S. 2013. Fluency in Native and Nonnative English Speech. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.