Effects of Task Characteristics on Learners’ Fluency, Complexity and Accuracy during EFL Interactions in a Mexican University: Implications for Speaking Practice

Edgar Emmanuell Garcia-Ponce

Abstract


Extensive research literature has long claimed that task characteristics impact qualitatively and quantitatively on learner talk. Motivated by this claim, a growing body of research has explored the effects of tasks on learners’ fluency, complexity and accuracy (i.e., oral performance). However, this previous research has been mostly conducted in second language contexts, leaving considerably unexplored the effects of task characteristics on learners’ oral performance in foreign language classrooms. In response to this, the present study examined learners’ fluency, complexity and accuracy during speaking practice in EFL classrooms in a Mexican university. In exploring uncontrolled teacher- and learner-led speaking practice at basic, intermediate and advanced levels, the findings indicated that fluency can be accompanied by either complexity or accuracy, but not all three dimensions. These findings raise intriguing questions as to the effectiveness of speaking practice to promote the learners’ oral performance and thus competence. In an attempt to enhance these interactions, the study suggests some pedagogical implications involving interactional behaviour, post-tasks, and manipulation of task information which may promote the three dimensions.


Keywords


accuracy, complexity, fluency, oral performance, speaking practice, tasks, trade-off effects

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