Comprehensibility and Fluency

Comprehensibility in Language Testing - Parvaneh Tavakoli

Parvaneh Tavakoli [+-]
University of Reading
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Parvaneh Tavakoli is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading. Parvaneh's main research interest lies in the interface of second language acquisition, language teaching, and language testing. Parvaneh has led several international research projects investigating the effects of task and task design on performance, acquisition, assessment and policy in different contexts. Her research has been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and books.
Sheryl Cooke [+-]
British Council
Sheryl Cooke is Director of the British Council’s East Asia Assessment Solutions Team, leading on language assessment projects and stakeholder engagement across the region, including needs analyses, language assessment literacy training, test development, post-test services and teacher support. Sheryl has 20 years’ experience in language assessment and her qualifications include an MA Language Testing (Lancaster University) and an MA Linguistics (SOAS). She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), focusing on automated assessment of spoken English and the potential implications for English as a Lingua Franca, and she has presented at leading regional and international conferences on this topic. Research interests include assessment of speaking, particularly accent and pronunciation, the use of new technologies in language testing and the ethics of language assessment in the global context.


The chapter’s main aim is to discuss the relationship between fluency and comprehensibility. After defining the construct of fluency in terms of cognitive, perceived and utterance fluency (Segalowitz, 2010; Tavakoli & Wright, 2020) and measureable features of speed, breakdown and repair fluency (Skehan, 2003, Tavakoli, et al., 2020), the chapter discusses in what ways these features of speech affect comprehensibility. More specifically, the chapter will discuss the effects of fluency on listeners and their judgements. By providing examples of how these different features of fluency are represented in rating descriptors of different language tests, the chapter will argue that the relationship between fluency and comprehensibility is not clearly represented in rating descriptors and rating materials.

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Tavakoli, Parvaneh; Cooke, Sheryl. Comprehensibility and Fluency. Comprehensibility in Language Testing. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. May 2023. ISBN 9780000000000. Date accessed: 19 Oct 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.41101. May 2023

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