Edited by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen and Mohammad Javad Ahmadian
[Task-Based Language Teaching 13] 2019
► pp. 39–52
Chapter 2. Automaticity, fluency and second language task performance
Research in second language (L2) task performance has been interested in examining fluency not only as a key aspect of language performance but also as a construct that can demonstrate L2 processing and development in concrete and measurable ways. Speech fluency has been particularly important in second language acquisition (SLA) research as it helps shed light on significant aspects of language processing, such as attention, noticing, and automaticity. This chapter will provide a brief overview of the literature on the relationship between automaticity and L2 fluency. It will then highlight the extent to which research in this area has moved beyond a simple and inadequately-defined concept of fluency to characterising fluency as a multidimensional and complex construct that is defined rigorously and measured objectively and systematically. After discussing the significance of fluency in language acquisition, language teaching and language assessment, the chapter evaluates the existing frameworks for defining and measuring fluency. It will also outline how operationalisation and measurement of fluency have changed to become more robust in nature and more methodical in operation. In doing so, Skehan’s influential contribution to the development of the current understanding of fluency and its measurement will be highlighted. The paper will conclude by underlining the need for expanding the existing framework to include other factors, such as individual, social, and cultural factors that affect fluency in task performance.