Predicting EFL Learners’ Susceptibility to Various Disfluency Types Based on Gender and Age
The aim of the current study is to investigate the relationship of production of speech disfluencies in EFL learners based on gender and age through regression modeling. Gender and age have been examined to influence the production of disfluencies in both native and nonnative speakers so it’s an important issue since fluency and disfluency are crucial aspects of language learning, however, the influence of age and gender on disfluency remains a controversial issue with studies often producing conflicting results with one another.
Methods. This study took a new approach to this subject as we produced regression models which can predict the likelihood of production of each disfluency type based on speakers’ age and gender. In order to do this 40 Iranian advanced EFL learners (20 male, 20 female) in four age groups (youth 19–24, young adults 25–30, adults 31–44, and older adults 45+) took part in the study. Later semi-structured interviews with a variety of questions regarding different topics were conducted and participants’ responses were first recorded and then transcribed. The frequency of occurrence of each disfluency type in participants’ speech samples formed our data. This data was then used for our regression analysis.
Results. Our findings indicated that, while filled pauses are the most frequently produced disfluency in both genders and all age groups, female speakers are more likely to produce hesitations in their speech compared to male speakers. We also found out that, older adults are less likely to produce filled pauses in their speech compared to younger speakers. With Further analyses, we also investigated the likelihood of producing certain disfluency types over other ones based on age and gender and how this may help instructors.
Conclusions. Based on our findings, it can be concluded that all six types of disfluencies are produced by the Iranian EFL learners. Also, we found that, filled pauses, hesitations, and repetitions are by far the most frequently produced disfluency types by Iranian EFL learners, respectively.
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