Research has explored the impact of various planning types (i.e. different ways to help students prepare for a language task by, for instance, giving them time and/or specific instructions) on the fluency, complexity, and accuracy of second language learners (e.g., Ellis, 2009). However, results have been mixed and studies have never investigated the impact of pre-speaking activities such as those proposed by Thompson (2009), a teacher-led planning focusing on both form and content with students. Previous research suggests that this type of planning could benefit students: Foster & Skehan (1999) believe that teacher-led planning is effective in comparison to other planning types, and Sangarun (2005) demonstrated the benefits of planning involving both content and form instead of planning focusing on content or form only. Moreover, because anxiety negatively impacts the production of second language learners (Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope, 1986), this study also examines whether planning activities can reduce student anxiety during speaking tasks. To this end, the present study examines the impact of three different planning conditions, namely no planning, solitary planning and Thompson's teacher-led planning, or Prelude to Conversation, on the fluency (measured through total duration of the speech sample, words per minute, and pauses per minute), complexity (measured through the words per utterance), accuracy (measured through the percentage of errors), and anxiety level (measured through anxiety scales) of 37 students performing short speaking tasks. Subjects were all enrolled in first semester French classes and were divided into three groups that rotated through the three planning conditions, each group starting with a different planning type in the cycle. Each week, the speaking task was common across all subjects, but depending on the group, the treatment was different. Their performance level during the speaking task and their anxiety level were compared for each treatment. Results show that planning has an impact on the fluency, complexity, and accuracy of the students but not on their anxiety level. Findings also show that pre-speaking has a more positive influence on the quality and the quantity of production of the students than solitary planning and no planning. Task and pre-task anxiety influenced the anxiety level of the students, demonstrating the role that specific tasks can have on student performance no matter how teachers try to prepare them for the tasks. Results also suggest that more personal-oriented tasks, e.g., student schedules, will elicit better responses than more outward-oriented tasks, e.g., school systems, cultural differences. This study also supports previous research that has shown the importance of creating a classroom where the anxiety is low.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





planning, pre-speaking, teacher-led planning, fluency, complexity, accuracy, anxiety