Towards the phonetic basis of spoken second language assessment: temporal features as indicators of perceived proficiency level


  • Heini Kallio University of Helsinki
  • Juraj Šimko University of Helsinki
  • Ari Huhta University of Jyväskylä
  • Reima Karhila Aalto University
  • Martti Vainio University of Helsinki
  • Erik Lindroos University of Helsinki
  • Raili Hildén University of Helsinki
  • Mikko Kurimo Aalto University


L2 proficiency assessment, L2 phonetics, prosody, temporal features


This study investigates whether temporal features in speech can predict the perceived proficiency level in Finnish learners of Swedish. In so doing, seven expert raters assessed speech samples produced by upper secondary school students using the revised CEFR scale for phonological control. The effect of temporal features was studied with a cumulative link mixed model, and the assessments were further analyzed to study inter-rater variation. The results indicate that articulation rate and certain types of disfluencies in speech can predict the perceived proficiency level. Furthermore, assessors seem to weigh temporal features differently depending on the speech type and their individual focus.