Quantitative assessment of second language learners' fluency: Comparisons between read and spontaneous speech

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Volume 111, Number 6, p.2862-2873 (2002)

DOI:

10.1121/1.1471894

Abstract:

This paper describes two experiments aimed at exploring the relationship between objective properties of speech and perceived fluency in read and spontaneous speech. The aim is to determine whether such quantitative measures can be used to develop objective fluency tests. Fragments of read speech (Experiment 1) of 60 non-native speakers of Dutch and of spontaneous speech (Experiment 2) of another group of 57 non-native speakers of Dutch were scored for fluency by human raters and were analyzed by means of a continuous speech recognizer to calculate a number of objective measures of speech quality known to be related to perceived fluency. The results show that the objective measures investigated in this study can be employed to predict fluency ratings, but the predictive power of such measures is stronger for read speech than for spontaneous speech. Moreover, the adequacy of the variables to be employed appears to be dependent on the specific type of speech material investigated and the specific task performed by the speaker.