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Where do speakers pause?: A comparative study of pause placement in L1 and L2 academic presentations
KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning, Language and communication.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1351-636X
(Uppsala University)
2011 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Pauses during a monologue such as a presentation can contribute to a speaker's communicative goals, or potentially interfere with them, depending on where the pauses occur. This talk discusses speaker pauses from various perspectives, using material where advanced ESL speakers held a presentation both in L1 Swedish and in English.

 

  Oral presentations are a difficult genre to master as an L2 speaker. Recent research has shown that non-native speakers tend to present at a reduced speed, thereby limiting the material they can cover in a time-limited presentation (Hincks 2010). It is known that rate of speech is accounted for less by articulation rate than by pauses (Goldman-Eisler 1956) and that pauses at constituent boundaries enhance the comprehensibility of aural input (Blau 1990). Pauses during a monologue such as a presentation can contribute to the speaker's communicative goals or interfere with them, depending on where the pauses occur. This study investigates *where* presenters tend to pause in L1 and L2, and why.

 

A corpus of transcriptions of 28 speech events was compiled, in which each of 14 advanced L2 speakers gave the same presentation both in English and in their L1, Swedish. The transcripts were marked up for pauses of 250 milliseconds or more, tokenized, part-of-speech tagged, and subjected to shallow parsing, to mark the boundaries of noun phrases, etc. Then an analysis was conducted of the lexical and syntactic locations in which pauses occurred in the L1 and L2 transcripts.

 

Results show that the subjects generally pause at the same locations in both languages. However, they pause more frequently in English, 12% more frequently per 1000 words.  They also show a greater tendency to pause *within* syntactic constituents in English than in Swedish: 15% as opposed to 11%.

 

In this talk, we will look at speaker pauses from various perspectives, reflecting in particular on the types of difficulties that lead to pauses (Levelt 1989), the ways in which L2 competence has an effect on the effectiveness of communication, and strategies that L2 learners may apply to increase the likelihood that prosody will help rather than hinder them in giving presentations.

 

 Blau, E. (1990). The Effect of Syntax, Speed, and Pauses on Listening

Comprehension. TESOL Quarterly, 24(4), 746-753.

 Goldman-Eisler, F. (1956). The determinants of the rate of speech output and their mutual relations. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 1, 137.

Hincks, R. (2010). Speaking rate and information content in English

lingua franca oral presentations. English for Specific Purposes, 29(10),

4-18.

Levelt, W. (1989). Speaking: from Intention to Articulation. Cambridge:

MIT Press.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Education and Communication in the Technological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-263816OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-263816DiVA, id: diva2:1370293
Conference
American Association of Applied Linguistics
Note

QC 20191115

Available from: 2019-11-14 Created: 2019-11-14 Last updated: 2019-11-15Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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