Saturday, March 14, 1998 at 00:02:59
I am a teacher at elementary level of French as a Second
Language. I wonder if second language speakers use filled pauses as much as first
language speakers...it seems to me that they don't although perhaps logically they should
be expected to in order to hold the
conversation while seeking a word or structure. Of course, I am working with children in a classroom setting which doesn't equate with adult conversation.
My second comment relates to observations that I made spontaneously (not knowing that anyone would be studying filled pauses.) My sister began using a great many filled pauses when she was employed in social work, especially when she advanced to administrative level. In a casual conversation I found it somewhat annoying. It seemed to me to be a part of the "social work culture". Your pages gave me other options to think about such as the complexity of abstract thinking involved in the topic under discussion. I was challenged by your thoughts and will return to this site to check on your progress.
I am an EFL teacher in Japan. My students generally have two problems (related to this topic) which I believe impedes their ability to communicate more effectively in English. First, they tend to have long latency periods (take a long time before responding to a question) and leave these periods mostly silent. This has the result of leaving me wondering whether there has been some communicative breakdown (e.g., they didn't understand the question, they don't even know I'm talking to them, etc.). In my impatience, I may sometimes rephrase the question or ask a new question which only returns us to square one. A simple 'uh' or 'well' on their part might have prevented the apparent breakdown. Second, when my students do need to hesitate in the middle of speech they sometimes fill the pause with a Japanes pause-filler ('e-to'). I have lived in Japan for ten years and quickly 'weed-out' such distractions from the message, but for the native speaker unfamiliar with Japanese this might prove to be a source of miscomprehension. I'm now starting to develop some lessons to address these issues with my students.
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