Document Type : Research Paper


1 Shahid Beheshti University

2 MA holder of TEFL in Shahid Beheshti University


Formulaic sequences (FSs) are among the most commonly discussed and well-documented effective factors in oral fluency both in L1 and L2. The present study aims to investigate the effect of teaching a set of 140 FSs on Iranian EFL learners' oral fluency. The relationship between the use of FSs and different measures of oral fluency is also studied empirically. Forty-eight intermediate EFL learners took part in the study. The participants were randomly assigned into two experimental groups and one control group. One of the experimental groups was taught the FSs with spaced retrievals. The other experimental group was also taught the FSs but with non-spaced retrievals. The control group was taught no FSs. The posttest was conducted one week after the treatment. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and other statistical procedures were used for analyzing the data. The results indicated that spaced productive retrieval of the FSs after their explicit and holistic teaching, helped the learners to have longer mean length of runs. The present findings have important implications for solving students' problems in speaking the second language. Therefore, the significance of spaced retrieval of FSs in language teaching and learning should not be neglected.


Abbott, E. E. (1909). On the analysis of the factor of recall in the learning process. The Psychological Review: Monograph Supplements, 11(1), 159-177.
Abdolrezapour, P. (2017). Improving learners’ oral fluency through computer-mediated emotional intelligence activities. ReCALL, 29(1), 80-98.
Ary, D., Jacobs, L., & Sorensen, C. (2010). Introduction to research in education. Boston: Cengage Learning.
Baddeley, A. D. (1997). Human memory: Theory and practice. Hove: Psychology Press.
Bakhshizadeh, Y., Rahimi, D. M., & Rajaei, M. (2015). The effect of explicit instruction of formulaic sequences on oral proficiency improvement of young Iranian EFL students. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 3(10), 44-52.
Bjork, R. A. (1994). Memory and metamemory considerations in the training of human beings. In J. Metcalfe, A. Shimamura (Eds.), Metacognition: Knowing about knowing (pp. 185–205). Cambridge: MIT Press.
Boers, F., Demecheleer, M., Coxhead, A., & Webb, S. (2014). Gauging the effects of exercises on verb–noun collocations. Language Teaching Research, 18(1), 54-74.
Boers, F., Eyckmans, J., Kappel, J., Stengers, H., & Demecheleer, M. (2006). Formulaic sequences and perceived oral proficiency: Putting a lexical approach to the test. Language Teaching Research, 10(3), 245-261.
Bosker, H. R., Pinget, A. F., Quené, H., Sanders, T., & De Jong, N. H. (2012). What makes speech sound fluent? The contributions of pauses, speed and repairs. Language Testing, 30(2), 159-175.
Buhr, A. P., Scofield, J., Eyer, J. C., & Walden, T. A. (2017). Cued self-awareness and speech fluency. Speech, Language and Hearing, 20(4), 187-195.
Carpenter, S. K., & DeLosh, E. L. (2005). Application of the testing and spacing effects to name learning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19(5), 619-636.
Clare, L., & Jones, R. S. (2008). Errorless learning in the rehabilitation of memory impairment: a critical review. Neuropsychology Review, 18(1), 1-23.
Cordier, C. (2013). The presence, nature and role of formulaic sequences in English advanced learners of French: a longitudinal study. (Doctoral dissertation, Newcastle University, UK). Retrieved from 
De Jong, N. H., Groenhout, R., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2015). Second language fluency: Speaking style or proficiency? Correcting measures of second language fluency for first language behavior. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(02), 223-243.
De Jong, N. H., Steinel, M. P., Florijn, A., Schoonen, R., & Hulstijn, J. H. (2012). The effect of task complexity on functional adequacy, fluency and lexical diversity in speaking performances of native and non-native speakers. In A. Housen, F. Kuiken, & I. Vedder. (Eds.), Dimensions of L2 performance and proficiency: complexity, accuracy and fluency in SLA (pp. 121-142). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
De Jong, N., Halderman, L., & Ross, M. (March, 2009). The effect of formulaic sequences training on fluency development in an ESL classroom. Paper presented at the American Association for Applied Linguistics conference, Denver, CO.
Derwing, T. M. (2017). L2 Fluency Development. In S. Leowen., & M. Sato (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of instructed second language acquisition (pp. 246-259). London: Taylor & Francis.
Di Silvio, F., Diao, W., & Donovan, A. (2016). The development of L2 fluency during study abroad: A cross‐language study. The Modern Language Journal, 100(3), 610-624.
Ellis, N. C. (1998). Emergentism, connectionism and language learning. Language Learning, 48(4), 631-664.
Ellis, R. (2005). Principles of instructed language learning. System, 33(2), 209-224.
Fowler, W. S., & Coe, N. (1976). Nelson proficiency tests. London: Butler &Tanner Ltd.
Freed, B. (2000). Is fluency, like beauty, in the eyes (and ears) of the beholder. In H. Riggenbach (Ed.), Perspectives on fluency (pp. 243-265). Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
Gamage, J., Mathew, T., & Weerahandi, S. (2004). Generalized p-values and generalized confidence regions for the multivariate Behrens–Fisher problem and MANOVA. Journal of Multivariate Analysis, 88(1), 177-189
Gani, S. A., Fajrina, D., & Hanifa, R. (2015). Students’ learning strategies for developing speaking ability. Studies in English Language and Education, 2(1), 17-30.
Ghonsooly, B., & Hosienpour, A. (2009). The effect of concept mapping on EFL speaking fluency. Iranian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 12(1), 1-28.
Goldstein, E. B. (2014). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience. Canada: Nelson Education.
Guz, E. (2014). Formulaic sequences as fluency devices in the oral production of native speakers of Polish. Research in Language, 12(2), 113-129.
Kahng, J. (2014). Exploring utterance and cognitive fluency of L1 and L2 English speakers: Temporal measures and stimulated recall. Language Learning, 64(4), 809-854.
Kang, S. H. (2016). Spaced repetition promotes efficient and effective learning: policy implications for instruction. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 12-19.
Kuiper, K. (2000). On the linguistic properties of formulaic speech. Oral Tradition, 15(2), 279-305.
Lahmann, C., Steinkrauss, R., & Schmid, M. S. (2017). Speed, breakdown, and repair: An investigation of fluency in long-term second-language speakers of English. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21(2), 228-242.
Lee, E. J., & Yoon, H. (2014). The Effect of Formulaic Language Learning on Korean Middle School Students’ English Speaking Fluency. Korean Journal of Applied Linguistics, 30(1), 139-159.
Lennon, P. (1990). Investigating fluency in EFL: A quantitative approach. Language Learning, 40(3), 387– 417.
Loewen, S., & Sato, M. (Eds.). (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition. London: Taylor & Francis.
Lotfolahi, A. R., & Salehi, H. (2017). Spacing effects in vocabulary learning: Young EFL learners in focus. Cogent Education, 4(1), 1-10.
Michel, M. (2017). Complexity, accuracy, and fluency in L2 production. In S. Leowen., & M. Sato (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of instructed second language acquisition (pp. 50-68). London: Taylor & Francis.
Nakata, T. (2016). Effects of retrieval formats on second language vocabulary learning. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 54(3), 257-289.
Nattinger, J. R., & DeCarrico, J. S. (1992). Lexical phrases and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richards, J. C. (2008). Teaching listening and speaking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Russell, P. (1979). The brain book. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Schmitt, N. (Ed.). (2004). Formulaic sequences: Acquisition, processing, and use. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Segalowitz, N. (2010). Cognitive bases of second language fluency. London: Routledge.
Segalowitz, N., & Freed, B. F. (2004). Context, contact, and cognition in oral fluency acquisition: Learning Spanish in at home and study abroad contexts. Studies in second language acquisition, 26(02), 173-199.
Simpson-Vlach, R., & Ellis, N. C. (2010). An academic formulas list: New methods in phraseology research. Applied Linguistics, 31(4), 487-512.
Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thorndike, E. L. (1912). Education, a first book. London: Macmillan Company.
Tsou, W. L., & Huang, Y. H. (2012). The effect of explicit instruction in formulaic sequences on academic speech fluency. Taiwan International ESP Journal, 4(2), 57-80.
Underwood, G., Schmitt, N., & Galpin, A. (2004). The eyes have it: An eye-movement study into the processing of formulaic sequences. Formulaic Sequences. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Vercellotti, M. L. (2017). The development of complexity, accuracy, and fluency in second language performance: A longitudinal study. Applied Linguistics, 38(1), 90-111.
Wood, D. (2002). Formulaic language in acquisition and production: Implications for teaching. TESL Canada Journal, 20(1), 1–15.
Wood, D. (2010). Formulaic language and second language speech fluency: Background, evidence and classroom applications. London & New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Wray, A. & Namba, K. (2003). Use of formulaic language by a Japanese-English bilingual child: A practical approach to data analysis. Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, 9(1), 24-51.
Wray, A. (1999). Formulaic language in learners and native speakers. Language Teaching, 32(4), 213-231.
Wray, A. (2002). Formulaic language and the lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.