Volume 27 (2016) Pages 97-108
A bulk of research has been conducted to clarify the effect of speech rate and pause duration on listening comprehension. Some previous studies have shown that a slower speech rate facilitates listening comprehension, while others have yielded opposite results. The conflicting results imply that it is very difficult to specify the most appropriate speech rate for every EFL listener. This study aims to clarify experimentally how pause duration and articulation rates affect EFL learners’ listening comprehension by precisely controlling the two parameters: articulation rate and pause duration. Through two listening tests given to Japanese EFL learners, we obtained the result that longer pauses (450 ms) facilitate the listening comprehension of lower intermediate EFL learners, while slower articulation rate does not necessarily have a positive effect on learners’ listening comprehension. This means a pause inserted in a passage provides listeners with additional information processing time and thus enhances the comprehensibility of the aural input.