4/3/2 or 2/3/4? The impact of task design on ratings of oral fluency with Japanese undergraduate EFL learners

Rian Davis, Michael Delve, Lydia Eberly, Craig Mertens, Thomas Stringer, Michael Wilkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Oral fluency is an important language skill and goal for many learners in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. A commonly used fluency development task is 4/3/2. Learners create a four-minute speech on a topic, then pare it down to a three-, then two-minute speech. Manipulating the language to fit within the shorter timeframe is thought to improve fluency. However, questions have been raised about whether reversing that order might be more effective for EFL learners. This study explores the impact of different models of task design on ratings of EFL learners’ oral fluency. The participants were 70 mainly first-year students at a Japanese university. Participants made pretest and posttest treatment recordings of themselves. The treatment was for participants to do either the 4/3/2 or the 2/3/4 speaking fluency activity once a week for four weeks. Each recording was rated at least twice by the team of instructor researchers to create a pre- and posttest speaking fluency score for each participant. The results of the study were that the treatment did show a significant increase in fluency but that there was not a significant difference between the 4/3/2 treatment and the 2/3/4 treatment. As such, the study represents an important opportunity to re-evaluate the effectiveness of a commonly used teaching tool. Future directions and implications are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Specialist publicationAnnual Research Report of the Language Center
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023


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