Can we detect short term fluency development after 2 hours of chat with a dialogue system?


Dialogue systems, such as chatbots and dialogue-based games, provide an opportunity for safe, meaningful conversational practice to foreign language learners. We evaluated how much the speaking fluency of A1-A2 teenage learners of French (N = 164) was impacted by a very short-term synchronous written practice with a dialogue-based CALL game. Pre-post comparisons of various semi-automatized fluency measures confirm that such precise metrics can detect short-term L2 fluency development. The detected effects are promising, even if the limited time on task, the shortcomings of the instructional design, and the limited transfer of learning from writing to speaking do not allow the effect to significantly outperform the test-retest training effect.

4 June 2022 14:40 — 15:10
Renaissance Hotel
Seattle, USA


  • Bosker, H. R., Pinget, A.-F., Quené, H., Sanders, T., & de Jong, N. H. (2013). What makes speech sound fluent? The contributions of pauses, speed and repairs. Language Testing, 30(2), 159–175. DOI: 10.1177/0265532212455394
  • Cucchiarini, C., Strik, H., & Boves, L. (2002). Quantitative assessment of second language learners’ fluency: Comparisons between read and spontaneous speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111(6), 2862–2873. DOI: 10.1121/1.1471894
  • de Jong, N. H., & Bosker, H. R. (2013). Choosing a threshold for silent pauses to measure second language fluency. In R. Eklund (Ed.), Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Disfluency in Spontaneous Speech (DiSS) (pp. 17–20).
  • de Jong, N. H., Pacilly, J., & Heeren, W. (2020). Praat scripts to measure fluency automatically.
  • de Jong, N. H., Steinel, M. P., Florijn, A. F., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2012). Facets of speaking proficiency. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 34(1), 5–34. DOI: 10.1017/S0272263111000489
  • Detey, S., Fontan, L., Le Coz, M., & Jmel, S. (2020). Computer-assisted assessment of phonetic fluency in a second language: A longitudinal study of Japanese learners of French. Speech Communication, 125, 69–79. DOI: 10.1016/j.specom.2020.10.001
  • Dumont, A. (2018). Fluency and disfluency: A corpus study of non-native and native speaker (dis)fluency profiles [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Université catholique de Louvain.
  • Ferrari, S. (2012). A longitudinal study of complexity, accuracy and fluency variation in second language development. In A. Housen, F. Kuiken, & I. Vedder (Eds.), Dimensions of L2 performance and proficiency: Complexity, accuracy and fluency in SLA (pp. 277–298). John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/lllt.32.12fer
  • Götz, S. (2013). Fluency in native and nonnative English speech. John Benjamins.
  • Hilton, H. (2014). Oral fluency and spoken proficiency: Considerations for research and testing. In P. Leclercq, A. Edmonds, & H. Hilton (Eds.), Measuring L2 proficiency: Perspectives from SLA (pp. 27–53). Multilingual Matters.
  • Koizumi, R. (2005). Predicting speaking ability from vocabulary knowledge. Japan Language Testing Association Journal, 7, 1–20.
  • Leclercq, P., & Edmonds, A. (2014). How to assess L2 proficiency? An overview of proficiency assessment research. In P. Leclercq, A. Edmonds, & H. Hilton (Eds.), Measuring L2 proficiency: Perspectives from SLA. Multilingual Matters.
  • Milton, J. (2013). Measuring the contribution of vocabulary knowledge to proficiency in the four skills. In C. Bardel, C. Lindqvist, & B. Laufer (Eds.), L2 vocabulary acquisition, knowledge and use (pp. 57–78). European Second Language Association.
  • Noreillie, A.-S. (2019). It’s all about words. Three empirical studies into the role of lexical knowledge and use in French listening and speaking tasks [Doctoral dissertation, KU Leuven].
  • Noreillie, A.-S., Kestemont, B., Heylen, K., Desmet, P., & Peters, E. (2018). Vocabulary knowledge and listening comprehension at an intermediate level in English and French as foreign languages. ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 169(1), 212–231. DOI: 10.1075/itl.00013.nor
  • Révész, A., Ekiert, M., & Torgersen, E. N. (2016). The effects of complexity, accuracy, and fluency on communicative adequacy in oral task performance. Applied Linguistics, 37(6), 828–848. DOI: 10.1093/applin/amu069
  • Saito, K., Ilkan, M., Magne, V., Tran, M. N., & Suzuki, S. (2018). Acoustic characteristics and learner profiles of low-, mid- and high-level second language fluency. Applied Psycholinguistics, 39(3), 593–617. DOI: 10.1017/S0142716417000571
  • Segalowitz, N. (2010). Cognitive bases of second language fluency. Routledge.
  • Segalowitz, N., French, L., & Guay, J.-D. (2017). What features best characterize adult second language utterance fluency and what do they reveal about fluency gains in short-term immersion? Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics / Revue Canadienne de Linguistique Appliquée, 20(2), 90–116. DOI: 10.7202/1050813ar
  • Tavakoli, P. (2016). Fluency in monologic and dialogic task performance: Challenges in defining and measuring L2 fluency. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 54(2), 133–150. DOI: 10.1515/iral-2016-9994
  • Tavakoli, P., Campbell, C., & McCormack, J. (2016). Development of speech fluency over a short period of time: Effects of pedagogic intervention. TESOL Quarterly, 50(2), 447–471. DOI: 10.1002/tesq.244
  • Tavakoli, P., Nakatsuhara, F., & Hunter, A.-M. (2020). Aspects of fluency across assessed levels of speaking proficiency. Modern Language Journal, 104(1), 169-191. DOI: 10.1111/modl.12620
  • Tonkyn, A. P. (2012). Measuring and perceiving changes in oral complexity, accuracy and fluency: Examining instructed learners’ short-term gains. In A. Housen, F. Kuiken, & I. Vedder (Eds.), Dimensions of L2 performance and proficiency: Complexity, accuracy and fluency in SLA (pp. 221–244). John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/lllt.32.10ton
  • Williams, J., Segalowitz, N., & Leclair, T. (2014). Estimating second language productive vocabulary size: A Capture-Recapture approach. The Mental Lexicon, 9(1), 23–47. DOI: 10.1075/ml.9.1.02wil
  • Wright, C., & Tavakoli, P. (2016). New directions and developments in defining, analyzing and measuring L2 speech fluency. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 54(2), 73–77. DOI: 10.1515/iral-2016-9990