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Task complexity, language proficiency and working memory: Interaction effects on second language speech performance

Awwad, A. and Tavakoli, P. (2019) Task complexity, language proficiency and working memory: Interaction effects on second language speech performance. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching. ISSN 1613-4141

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1515/iral-2018-0378


With the aim of developing a more reliable understanding of the effects of task complexity and learner-internal factors on L2 performance, a 2 × 2 within-between participant study was designed to examine the effects intentional reasoning has on L2 performance, and whether learner language proficiency and working memory mediates these effects. Forty- eight learners of English performed two video-based narrative tasks of varying degrees of intentional reasoning, after taking Oxford Placement Test, Elicited Imitation Tasks and backward-digit span tasks. The results demonstrate that intentional reasoning had significant effects on complexity and accuracy, but no impact on fluency. Regression analyses indicated that proficiency and working memory reliably predicted accuracy across both task types. However, language proficiency and working memory contributed differentially to models predicting lexical complexity and speed fluency in the two task types, highlighting the interaction between task complexity and learner-internal factors. Keywords: second language speech performance, task complexity, intentional reasoning, language proficiency, working memory.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:83080
Publisher:de Gruyter

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