Second language speakers’ awareness of their own comprehensibility
Examining task repetition and self-assessment
This study investigated whether second language (L2) speakers are aware of and can manipulate aspects of their speech contributing to comprehensibility. Forty Mandarin speakers of L2 English performed two versions of the same oral task. Before the second task, half of the speakers were asked to make their speech as easy for the interlocutor to understand as possible, while the other half received no additional prompt. Speakers self-assessed comprehensibility after each task and were interviewed about how they improved their comprehensibility. Native-speaking listeners evaluated speaker performances for five dimensions, rating speech similarly across groups and tasks. Overall, participants did not become more comprehensible from task 1 to task 2, whether prompted or not, nor did speakers’ self-assessments become more in line with raters’, indicating speakers may not be aware of their own comprehensibility. However, speakers who did demonstrate greater improvement in comprehensibility received higher ratings of flow, and speakers’ self-ratings of comprehensibility were aligned with listeners’ assessments only in the second task. When discussing comprehensibility, speakers commented more on task content than linguistic dimensions. Results highlight the roles of task repetition and self-assessment in speakers’ awareness of comprehensibility.