Our next HL2C seminar will take place on Wednesday 26th January from 12 noon to 1pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London). This talk is a joint initiative with Lancaster’s SLLAT Research Group.


Joe Kakitani (Lancaster)


Effects of distributed practice on L2 speech fluency development

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.


There has been a surge of interest in L2 research investigating how practice schedule can influence various aspects of L2 learning such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation (e.g., Kasprowicz, Marsden, & Sephton, 2019; Rogers & Cheung, 2018, 2020; Li & DeKeyser, 2019). Recent L2 distributed practice research has focused on oral fluency development—a dimension of L2 performance which hinges highly on L2 procedural knowledge (Kormos, 2006). Manipulating the timing of task repetitions has shown to affect the fluency of the repeated performance (Bui, Ahmadian, & Hunter, 2019), and the effects of practice schedule have been found to transfer to a performance on a novel task (Suzuki & Hanzawa, 2021). Research in cognitive psychology suggests that an ideal distribution of repeated practice rests on the ratio of the interval between practice sessions (i.e., the intersession interval; ISI) and the time gap between the final practice session and the time of testing (i.e., the retention interval; RI). However, no research to date has examined the effects of distributed practice on L2 oral fluency development by systematically manipulating the ISI–RI ratio. An investigation of specified ISI–RI ratios is necessary to gain a better understanding of distributed practice effects on L2 fluency development, and how the research findings from cognitive psychology can be applied to a rather complex skill of L2 speaking. The current study, thus, aimed to fill the research gap by examining the effects of distributed practice using the ISI–RI ratios of 10–30%, an optimal range suggested by cognitive psychology research (Rohrer & Pashler, 2007). To this end, 116 Japanese university students participated in an online experimental study. The participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups, which consisted of two experimental groups (a short-spaced group [1-day ISI] and a long-spaced group [7-day ISI]) and two control groups. The experimental groups engaged in four narrative-task practice sessions which were identical in terms of content and procedure, with the only difference lying in the distribution of the practice sessions (1 day vs. 7 days apart). The control groups, by contrast, only took the three tests (pretest, posttest, delayed posttest) which followed the same schedule as each corresponding experimental group. A total of 348 speech datasets were analyzed in terms of speed fluency (e.g., articulation rate), breakdown fluency (e.g., frequency and duration of mid-clause and clause-final pauses), and repair fluency (e.g., repetition). Linear mixed-effects modeling showed the advantage of the long-spaced practice over short-spaced practice in terms of breakdown fluency (e.g., mean length of mid-clause pauses) on the delayed posttest, demonstrating greater retention of enhanced fluency performance. The present findings contribute to the existing body of L2 research by yielding insights on how distributed practice may benefit the long-term development of L2 oral fluency.

Bui, G., Ahmadian, M. J., & Hunter, A.-M. (2019). Spacing effects on repeated L2 task performance. System, 81, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2018.12.006

Kasprowicz, R. E., Marsden, E., & Sephton, N. (2019). Investigating distribution of practice effects for the learning of foreign language verb morphology in the young learner classroom. The Modern Language Journal. https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12586

Kormos, J. (2006). Speech production and second language acquisition. New York: Routledge.

Li, M., & DeKeyser, R. (2019). Distribution of Practice Effects in the Acquisition and Retention of L2 Mandarin Tonal Word Production. https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12580

Rogers, J., & Cheung, A. (2018). Input spacing and the learning of L2 vocabulary in a classroom context. Language Teaching Research, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168818805251

Rogers, J., & Cheung, A. (2020). Does it matter when you review?: Input spacing, ecological validity, and the learning of L2 vocabulary. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263120000236

Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2007). Increasing retention without increasing study time. Psychological Science, 16(4), 183–186. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00500.x

Suzuki, Y., & Hanzawa, K. (2021). Massed task repetition is a double-edged sword for fluency development: An ESL classroom study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1(1), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263121000358