Ranking Competencies of Oral Output: A Unit of Analysis for Low-Proficient L2 Speakers

Nobue Tanaka-Ellis


The evaluation of spoken language requires a rigid structure to make the analysis reliable, however, it is challenging to set the right criteria that work for different types of speech samples. Spoken language may be evaluated from different perspectives, depending on what to look at (e.g., intelligibility, Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency). The former tend to concern a holistic evaluation of the spoken data, whereas the latter involves numeric measurements. Although they both analyse oral data, they do not seem to coexist in the same research field. Also, the research tools in both fields do not cater for evaluating data produced by speakers of low proficiency. This is because once a speech is labelled “low”, there are no additional classifications for further analysis. This paper, therefore, attempts to create those further categories. In this paper, intelligibility and existing methods for analysing spoken data in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) are reviewed to see if there are some overarching themes in teaching, assessing, and analysing spoken languages. Some of the issues from intelligibility and SLA are, then, delineated for designing a unit of analysis. The paper, finally, proposes the hierarchical C-unit, which is designed to deal with oral data produced by low-proficient speakers.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v5n3p560


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