Speech Disfluencies of Non-Native Speakers of English in TED Talk Scripts

Veronica Esti Nugrahani(1), Barli Bram(2*)
(1) Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta
(2) Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta
(*) Corresponding Author
DOI : 10.24256/itj.v4i2.2490


To speak fluently in the target language, English, has remained a challenge for learners, particularly those who are non-native speakers of English. When speaking, therefore, learners should be aware of speech disfluencies. This paper, accordingly, investigates the speech disfluencies of non-native speakers in their presentations. Data were collected from TED Talk scripts and were then analysed and discussed, based on categories of disfluency. The findings of this document analysis reveal five types of disfluency in the data, namely unfilled pause, filled pause, repetition, deletion, and substitution. It is expected that learners of English at university level can benefit from the study results concerning speech disfluencies to improve their speaking proficiency.     

Keywords: Disfluency; filled pause; non-native speaker; TED talk


Abdulrahman, T. (2018). TED talks as listening teaching strategy in EAP classroom. Asian EFL Journal, 14(6), 60-80. https://www.asian-esp-journal.com/tag/volume-14-issue-6-november-2018/

Abimanto, D., Hidayah, Y., Halimah, L., & Hasyim, U.A.F.A. (2021). Speech disfluency made by male and female learners at Kampung Inggris Semarang. Anglophile Journal, 1(2), 42-56. https://dx.doi.org/10.51278/anglophile.v1i2.21

Achaleke, H.F. (2022). Impact of authentic videos on students’ academic presentation skills: The case of TED talk and international business management students in Ubon Ratchathani University. International Journal of English Language Studies, 4(3), 52-27. https://doi.org/10.32996/ijels.2022.4.3.8

Alghazali, A. (2019). Investigating features of disfluent speech by EFL learners at Taiz University. Journal of Applied Studies in Language, 3(2), 115-126. http://ojs.pnb.ac.id/index.php/JASL

Altiparmak, A., & Kuruoglu, G. (2018). Gender and speech disfluency production: A psycholinguistic analysis on Turkish Speakers. Psycholinguistics, 24(2), 114-143. https://doi.org/10.31470/2309-1797-2018-24-1-114-143

Ary, D., Cheser, L. J., Razavieh, A., & Sorensen, C. K. (2010). Introduction to Research in Education. (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bailoor, P., John, J., & Laxman, J. (2015). Disfluencies in English speaking young adults: A supplementary study in Indian setup. International Journal of Research Studies in Biosciences (IJRSB), 3(6), 110-114. https://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/ijrsb/v3-i10/16.pdf

Barr, D. J. (2001). Trouble in mind: Paralinguistic indices of effort and uncertainty in communication. Oralité et gestualité, communication multimodale, intéraction, ed. by S. Santi, I. Guaïtella, C. Cave, and G. Konopczynski, 597-600. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Bataineh, R.F., & Al-refa’i, A.M. (2019). The potential of TED talks for developing prospective United Nations police monitors’ listening performance. Lublin Studies in Modern Languages and Literature, 43(3), 141-153. http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/lsmll.2019.43.3.141-153

Beattie, G. W. (1979). Planning units in spontaneous speech: Some evidence from hesitation in speech and speaker gaze direction in conversation. Linguistics, 17, 61–78. https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1979.17.1-2.61

Beattie, G. W., & Butterworth, B. L. (1979). Contextual probability and word frequency as determinants of pauses and errors in spontaneous speech. Language and Speech, 22(3), 201-211. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383097902200301

Bock, K., & Levelt, W. J. M. (1994). Language production: Grammatical encoding. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of Psycholinguistics (945–984). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Bortfeld, H., Leon, S. D., Bloom, J. E., Schober, M. F., & Brennan, S. E. (2001). Disfluency rates in conversation: Effects of age, relationship, topic, role, and gender. Language and Speech, 32, 229–259. https://doi.org/10.1177/00238309010440020101

Bosker, H. R. (2014). The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech. Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics, Utrecht. https://pure.mpg.de/rest/items/item_2057246_6/component/file_2057245/content

Brennan, S. E., & Williams, M. (1995). The feeling of another’s knowing: Prosody and filled pauses as cues to listeners about the metacognitive states of speakers. Journal of Memory and Language, 34, 383–398. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1995.1017

Clark, H. H., & Wasow, T. (1998). Repeating words in spontaneous speech. Cognitive Psychology, 37, 201–242. https://doi.org/10.1006/cogp.1998.0693

Clark, H. H., & Tree, J. E. F. (2002). Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking. Cognition, 84, 73–111. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0277(02)00017-3

Corley, M., & Stewart, O. W. (2008). Hesitation disfluencies in spontaneous speech: The meaning of um. Language and Linguistic Compass, 2(4), 589-602. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00068.x

Council of Europe. (2001). Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching and assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, Mixed Method Approach. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cucchiarini, C., Strik, H., & Boves, L. (2000). Quantitative assessment of second language learners’ fluency by means of automatic speech recognition technology. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 107, 989–999. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.428279

Damayanti, D.A., & Sumarniningsih. (2022). The effectiveness of TED-ED videos as audiovisual input in listening activities. Journal of English Language and Education, 7(1), 114-122. https://doi.org/10.31004/jele.v7i1.248

Dell, G. S. (1986). A spreading activation theory of retrieval in sentence production. Psychological Review, 93(3), 283–321. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295x.93.3.283

Engelhardt, P. E., Nigg, J. T., & Ferreira, F. (2013). Is the fluency of language outputs related to individual differences in intelligence and executive function? ¬Acta Psychologica, 144, 424-432. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.08.002

Enxhi, S. Y., Tan, B. H., & Yong, M. F. (2012). Speech disfluencies and mispronunciations in English oral communication among Malaysian undergraduates. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 1(7), 19-32. http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.7p.19

Fillmore, C. J. (1979). On fluency. In C. J. Fillmore, D. Kempler & W. Wang (Eds.), Individual differences in language ability and language behavior (pp. 85-101). New York: Academic Press.

Tree, J. E. F. (1995). The effects of false starts and repetitions on the processing of subsequent words in spontaneous speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 34(6), 709-738. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1995.1032

Fraundorf, S. H., & Watson, D. G. (2014). Alice adventures in um-derland: Psycholinguistic sources of variation in disfluency production. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 29(9), 1083-1096. https://doi.org/10.1080/01690965.2013.832785

Fromkin, V. A. (1980). Errors in Linguistic Performance: Slips of the Tongue, Ear, Pen and Hand. New York: Academic Press.

Gryc, J. (2014). Fillers in Academic Spoken English. Published bachelor’s thesis. Masaryk University, Czech Republic. https://is.muni.cz/th/szshr/Bachelor_Thesis_-_Gryc_Jan.pdf

Gürbüz, N. (2017). Understanding fluency and disfluency in non-native speakers’ conversational English. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 17, 1853–1874. http://dx.doi.org/10.12738/estp.2017.6.0071

Hartsuiker, R. J., & Notebaert, L. (2010). Lexical access problems lead to disfluencies in speech. Experimental Psychology, 57(3), 169-177. https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000021

Heller, D., Arnold, J. E., Klein, N., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2015). Inferring difficulty: Flexibility in the real-time processing of disfluency. Language and Speech, 58(2), 190-203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830914528107

Jefferson, G. (1989). Preliminary notes on a possible metric which provides for a “standard maximum” silence of approximately one second in conversation. In P. Bull & R. Derek (Eds.), Conversation: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 166–196). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Levelt, W. J. M.(1983). Monitoring and self-repair in speech. Cognition, 14, 41-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(83)90026-4

Li, J., & Tilsen, S. (2015). Phonetic evidence for two types of disfluency. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015), 668. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.

Liyanage, I., & Gardner, R. (2013). Assessing fluency: Are the criteria fair? Classroom Discourse, 4(1), 27-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/19463014.2013.779285

Maclay, H., & Osgood, C. E. (1959). Hesitation phenomena in spontaneous English speech. Word, 15, 19-44. https://doi.org/10.1080/00437956.1959.11659682

Merlo, S., & Mansur, L. L. (2004). Descriptive discourse: topic familiarity and disfluencies. Journal of Communication Disorders, 37(6), 489-503. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2004.03.002

Mukti, N. I., & Wahyudi, R. (2015). EFL students’ uses of um as filers in classroom presentations. Journal of Language and Communication, 2(1), 63-76. https://journalfbmk.upm.edu.my/ojs3/index.php/jlc/article/view/191

Nguyen, C., & Boers, F. (2018). The effect of content retelling on vocabulary uptake from a TED talk. Tesol Quarterly, 0(0), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.441

Oomen, C. C., & Postma, A. (2001). Effects of time pressure on mechanisms of speech production and self-monitoring. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 30(2), 163- 184. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11385824/

Oviatt, S. (1995). Predicting spoken disfluencies during human-computer interaction. Computer Speech and Language, 9(1), 19-35. https://doi.org/10.1006/csla.1995.0002

Pamolango, V. A. (2016). An analysis of the fillers used by Asian students in Busan, South Korea: A comparative study. International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics, 2(3), 96-99. https://doi.org/10.18178/ijlll.2016.2.3.74

Postma, A., Kolk, H., & Povel, D. J. (1990). On the relation between speech errors, disfluencies, and self-repairs. Language and Speech, 33, 19-29. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383099003300102

Sanjaya, A. A., & Nugrahani, V. E. (2018). Speech disfluency in groups’ presentations of English education master’s programme students. LLT Journal: A Journal on Language and Language Teaching, 21(1), 11-26. https://doi.org/10.24071/llt.v21i1.895

Sanjmyatav, G., & Sumiya, S. (2020). Using TED-ED as authentic aids to promote EFL acquisition. Mandakh Research, 3, 66-74. https://cdn.greensoft.mn/uploads/users/2179/files/USING%20TED-ED%20AS%20AUTHENTIC%20AIDS%20TO%20PROMOTE%20.pdf

Sari, M.I., Hadi, M.S., & Mutiarani, M. (2021). The TED talks as a learning tool in teaching speaking. Journal of English Teaching and Research, 6(1), 45-52. https://doi.org/10.29407/jetar.v6i1.15694

Schachter, S., Christenfeld, N., Ravina, B., & Bilous, F. (1991). Speech disfluency and the structure of knowledge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 362–367. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.60.3.362

Schachter, S., Rauscher, F. H., Christenfeld, N., & Crone, T. K. (1994). The vocabularies of academia. Psychological Science, 5, 37–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.1994.tb00611.x

Schnadt, M. J., & Corley, M. (2006). The influence of lexical, conceptual and planning based factors on disfluency production. In Proceedings of the Twenty-eighth Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 750-755. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9337x2hk

Shriberg, E. (1994). Preliminaries to a theory of speech disfluencies. PhD. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. https://old.filledpause.org/references/Shriberg_94.htm

Shriberg, E. (1996). Disfluencies in switchboard. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Spoken Language Processing, addendum (11-14). http://www.asel.udel.edu/icslp/cdrom/vol3/1031/a1031.pdf

Shriberg, E. (2001). To `errrr’ is human: Ecology and acoustics of speech disfluencies. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 31(1), 153-169. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0025100301001128

Smith, V. L., & Clark, H. H. (1993). On the course of answering questions. Journal of Memory and Language, 32(1), 25–38. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1993.1002

Stognieva, O. (2019). Teaching business English with TED Talks: Putting ideas into practice. Journal of Language and Education, 5(2), 95-111. https://doi.org/10.17323/jle.2019.7995

Swerts, M., & Geluykens, R. (1994). Prosody as a marker of information flow in spoken discourse. Language and Speech, 37, 21–43. https://doi.org/10.1177/002383099403700102

Swerts, M. (1998). Filled pauses as markers of discourse structure. Journal of Pragmatics, 30(4), 485-496. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0378-2166(98)00014-9

Tilwani, S.A., Alghazali, T.A.H., & Patra, I. (2022). The effects of TED talks as an instructional tool on developing EFL learners’ speaking accuracy and fluency: Attitude in focus. Computer-Assisted Language Learning Electronic Journal, 23(2), 93-107. http://callej.org/journal/23-2/Tilwani-Alghazali-Patra2022.pdf

Wu, C. (2020). Implementing TED talks as authentic videos to improve Taiwanese students’ listening comprehension in English language learning. Arab World English Journal, (6), 24-37. https://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awej/call6.2

Yaqin, A., & Athena, T. (2022). TED talks based learning on students’ intermediate speaking skills level. SELL Journal, 7(2), 111-121. http://publikasi.stkippgri-bkl.ac.id/index.php/SL/article/view/802/580

Article Statistic

Abstract view : 58 times
PDF views : 19 times

The PDF file you selected should load here if your Web browser has a PDF reader plug-in installed (for example, a recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader).

If you would like more information about how to print, save, and work with PDFs, Highwire Press provides a helpful Frequently Asked Questions about PDFs.

Alternatively, you can download the PDF file directly to your computer, from where it can be opened using a PDF reader. To download the PDF, click the Download link above.

Fullscreen Fullscreen Off

Full Text: PDF

How To Cite This :


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Veronica Esti Nugrahani, Barli Bram

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.