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ERIC Number: EJ927238
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 80
ISSN: ISSN-1072-4303
Improving Speaking Fluency for International Teaching Assistants by Increasing Input
Gorsuch, Greta J.
TESL-EJ, v14 n4 Mar 2011
One challenge for many international teaching assistants (ITAs) is improving their spoken English fluency after arrival in the U.S.A. It may be argued that poor fluency, with its hallmarks of slow speech rate, false starts, and particularly pauses that violate phrasal boundaries, account for the failure of many ITAs to be certified by their institutions to teach undergraduate labs or classes. And, for a variety of reasons, simply being in graduate school in the U.S.A. may not result in ITAs rapidly improving their English, even after a semester or more of specialized ITA courses. This study explores the question of whether an input approach, in addition to a production-oriented ITA preparation approach, will improve ITAs' spoken fluency in post-treatment teaching simulations. In this study, 28 participants in an ITA preparation course engaged in twice-a-week repeated reading (RR) sessions, in which they repeatedly and silently read 500-word basic popular science texts along with an audio recorded model of the text. In this study, ITAs' gains in reading fluency and comprehension were tracked throughout an academic semester for a total of twenty 30-minute RR sessions. In addition, two ITAs' teaching simulation presentations were audio recorded, once at the beginning and once at the end of the fourteen-week course. Changes in speech rate, percentage of grammatically intact pause groups, and percentage of disfluent pause groups were tracked. ITAs' reading fluency and comprehension increased significantly, while the percentage of intact pause groups increased, and the percentage of "split" pause groups decreased. While causality between the RR treatments and improvements in ITAs' spoken fluency cannot be strictly stated, a theoretical model of how extensive input may promote speaking fluency is presented, along with specific suggestions on creating input-focused programs for ITAs. (Contains 5 tables.)
TESL-EJ. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A