Over the past several years, much research has investigated the role of pre-task planning, including solitary, group, and teacher-led planning, on the variables of complexity, fluency, and accuracy in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research. (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Gaillard, 2013; Geng & Ferguson, 2013). Additionally, other studies have investigated L2 learners' use of paragraphs and/or the role of conjunctions, i.e. transition words and expressions, in developing ideas and increasing cohesion (Mendelson, 2012; Rass, 2015). A gap remains, however, in seeing how pre-speaking and transition word activities together can promote proficiency in terms of text type, i.e. the move from word level speech and producing strings of sentences to paragraph level discourse. This study seeks to fill this gap by examining two teaching methods, namely Prelude to Conversation, or pre-speaking (Thompson, 2009), and transition word activities, to investigate the effect that these teaching methods have on increasing complexity and fluency among Intermediate-level learners of French. Complexity was measured by investigating the sub-components of total transition words, taught transition words, total clauses, words per clause, and total words. Fluency was measured by investigating the sub-components of time duration (total minutes) and words per minute. Furthermore, a case study illustrates the implications of increases in complexity and fluency for text type. Subjects were recruited from third semester French courses at Brigham Young University and were subsequently divided into three groups with each group receiving a different teaching method: Group 1 received transition word pre-activities, Group 2 received pre-speaking with a focus on content and forms needed to respond to the task, and Group 3 received a combination of both teaching methods. The study lasted four weeks with a Pre-Test in week one, followed by two weeks of treatments before completing the Post-Test in the fourth week. During the second and third weeks, each group received their respective treatments before responding to prompts that were identical for each group. Following the data collection, the speech samples were transcribed and analyzed for the sub-components of complexity and fluency. Results show, when comparing the Pre-Test to the Post-Test, that pre-speaking has a broader impact on complexity and fluency, either alone or when combined with transition word activities, impacting in particular total clauses, total words and response duration. When transition word activities were taught alone, there were greater gains in the use of taught transition words. The findings also demonstrate that even simply practicing providing oral responses regardless of treatment did help learners make overall increases that led to Post-Test responses (without scaffolding) that did not return to Pre-Test levels.



College and Department

Humanities; Center for Language Studies



Date Submitted


Document Type





pre-task planning, teacher-led planning, pre-speaking, transition words, complexity, fluency