Effects of Autonomous Shadowing Practice on Oral Fluency Development
This study empirically investigated the effect of semester-long shadowing practice with in-class pronunciation training on L2 Japanese learners’ oral fluency and oral proficiency. The participants were 30 intermediate JFL university students at a U.S. university and participated in the experiment as a part of their coursework. This study deployed a pre-post research design and analyzed students’ improvement of oral fluency and oral proficiency quantitatively.
Based on the previous finding that there is a lack of pronunciation teaching in current Japanese language education and the effectiveness of shadowing for various L2 skills including fluency, the present research conducted in-class pronunciation training along with shadowing practice as assignments. Then, the researcher examined if shadowing practice improves learners’ fluency and oral proficiency. The experiment was conducted with a control group and experimental group (shadowing and in-class pronunciation training). A read aloud task and a storytelling task were employed as pretest and posttest.
The results found that there were no significant improvements in speed fluency or repair fluency in either the read aloud task or storytelling task. However, in the storytelling task, one breakdown fluency measure, silent pause ratio within AS-unit showed significant improvement. This indicates the learners acquired a more native-like pausing pattern by shadowing practice. The difference between the groups in oral proficiency was close to significant, and it suggests the two treatments may be effective for overall skills.
Along with the quantitative analysis of students’ improvement, this study reports students’ perceptions toward the shadowing practice and in-class pronunciation training. The results showed that more than 83% of the students found the two treatments effective, and approximately 83% of the students would like to continue the shadowing practice if they had another opportunity.