Wednesday, March 4, 1998 at 12:19:26

This is an interesting site. I'm pretty self-conscious (in a positive sense) about speech patterns etc. I've thought about some of these things, but not systematically. I think that this work may be of value to language students if they can be more conscious of their speech patterns.

- JM

I have already found this issue to be of some value to my Japanese learners of English.  One lesson I gave nearly a year ago strongly encouraged students to use various techniques to fill what otherwise would have been silences in their speech.   From that one lesson, several students have continued this practice for many months.  As a teacher, I recognize their use quickly.  However, as a conversational partner I find that they 'sound' more fluent.  Or at least, they sound more 'engaged' in the conversation than the student who leaves long silences during speech processing.

Actually, I was thinking that some foreign speakers learn to use filled pauses and do far too much of it. I understand that filling the pauses gives them some control of the flow of conversation, but it doesn't sound so good to me. It would be helpful to tell people about filled pauses, even native speakers, but they should learn to use them intelligently. When I was taking a Spanish conversation class and had to give a speech, I started by "Pues ... entonces ... bueno ... " I don't know if the instructor noticed, but I thought it was cute.

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if the instructor did not notice it.  There is some evidence (including my own research) to suggest that both listeners and speakers do a fair degree of 'filtering' out disfluencies such that they hear only the message.   I dare say that some who take great pride in thier speaking ability may be quite surprised to find how hesitant they really are if they analyzed a recording of their own spontaneous speech.

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