Discourse markers as predictors of success for the TOEFL

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ABSTRACT The teaching of formulaic sequences (FSs) to improve speech fluency is a time honored tradition in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL). However, recent research seems

ABSTRACT The teaching of formulaic sequences (FSs) to improve speech fluency is a time honored tradition in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL). However, recent research seems to indicate that certain discourse markers, specifically transition and personal stance markers, are more useful than other FSs. This study is an attempt to partially replicate (on a very small scale) one of these studies to see if the findings are similar when the standardized test materials are from the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) rather than the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The hope is that teacher researchers could have access to readily available, standardized assessment materials with which to create their own research studies consisting of a standardized pretest and posttest. Four students of various levels in an Intensive English Program (IEP) were given a practice listening and speaking exam utilizing TOEFL preparation materials found online. The results were analyzed to see if there was a noticeable correlation between the use of the specified discourse markers on the speech portion of the test and the performance of the students on the listening portion of the test. The findings show some discrepancy between the two studies' results. It appears possible to have a high perceived fluency rate and still have a lower overall speaking fluency when taking into account listening comprehension and various other measures.