Nada Alshehri

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a lecturer at the University of Jeddah, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, in the English Department. I have a masters degree from the University of California in TESL, 2014. I also have a masters degree in Applied Linguistics from Birkbeck College of London, 2017

What is it that makes you passionate about this area of study?

As a lecturer who works closely with L2 learners in an English department at the University of Jeddah, I have noticed that the oral fluency in English with my students varies, although they have all had the same amount of previous L2 learning and experience (seven years). Teaching English when speaking in an interactional context is neglected in the ESL classrooms and the English Department at the University of Jeddah. Dialogue is the natural form of communication (Garrod & Pickering, 2004) and it should be encouraged in classroom teaching because students are rarely engaged in monologue settings. L2 learners generally have a goal to be fluent in L2, and I have been asked frequently as a teacher “how can I improve my speaking abilities before I travel abroad to complete my higher education, take summer courses or even when taking IELTS or TOEFL exams?” L2 fluency is also one of the L2 proficiency components along with complexity and accuracy.

As a result, I have become more interested in L2 speaking and developments. The findings of this study aim to be beneficial for L2 English instructors in the English department at the University of Jeddah in many ways, including: (1) it can help improve the students’ speaking abilities in interactional contexts by using more dialogue activities in classroom; (2) to provide reasons for the students’ dysfluencies and suggestions for L2 speaking tasks that other instructors may consider adopting to promote and facilitate L2 production. For example, L2 learners should be encouraged to use some of the proposed strategies to help keep or maintain the flow of their speech in real life communication. Instead, when L2 students encounter problems with their speaking, they should use the filled pauses, or self-correction, rather than remaining silent or repeating the same speech without modifications.

I have chosen a research degree at the University of Leeds because it is a highly qualified university and it is one of the top 100 university around the world.

Please tell us about your research topic…

It can be argued that the majority of the fluency studies have looked at the fluency in a monologic mode, apart from a few exceptions, such as Witton-Davies, 2014; Tavakoli, 2016, and Peltonen, 2017 who have addressed the topic fluency in a dialogic mode. However, little is still known about fluency in dialogue, for example, (1) the operationalizations of fluency measures in dialogue, regarding the between-turn pauses and filled/unfilled pauses, and turn-taking in conversations. Also, (2) the individual differences which might be responsible for second language dysfluency in dialogue, are factors such as Working Memory Capacity or first language fluency. Therefore, my study aims to examine the relationship between first language fluency, second fluency and Working Memory Capacity of second language students when they are performing a dialogic task.

How has your experience been at the University so far?

I learn every day since I moved to Leeds and starting my PhD journey. I’m enjoying learning, reading and writing about my topic. I’m also eager to gain more experience in my field of expertise and learn from my previous mistakes and develop new skills.

What would you say about the support you receive?

I have the most support from my supervisors and other PGRS in the office.

What do you like to do outside of studying?

Travelling, shopping, workout, walking, staying home.

What do you think of Leeds as a city?

It’s a great city. I can’t imagine living far from Leeds. I really love the modern quiet life in Leeds. Whatever you want you can find in Leeds. It’s easy to walk to the city centre and people are friendly and welcoming. You will hear the word “love” or “hey love” almost every day!

What would you say to someone considering a research degree in the School?

Be prepared for reading, reading and reading. Be patient and always ask your colleagues or classmates for help. Postgraduate researchers are always supportive and have experience in the department before you.

What are your plans once you have completed your PhD?

I plan to go back to my country (Saudi Arabia) and start using my research skills, academic qualifications to develop my students’ skills in the English department in the University of Jeddah.