Task-planning studies have mostly been conducted using quantitative methods, not qualitative. However, the actual planning behaviors by learners could be overlooked by quantitative research which focuses mostly on planning outcomes rather than the processes. This study aims to bridge this gap by exploring learner behavioral patterns in pre-task planning as well as the under-investigated area of topic familiarity by drawing upon interview data. This consists of a comparison between the task-external and task-internal readiness constructs proposed in bui’s (2014) task-readiness framework. Eight undergraduate students in hong kong completed two speaking tasks (a familiar and an unfamiliar task), followed by retrospective interviews. Though largely confirming previous (but parsimonious) research on task planning behaviors, this study discovered three major findings that had not been covered well in previous literature. First, while past studies focused on the psycholinguistic processes of task planning, these participants extensively reported its affective influences. Next, most participants reported their overall intended emphasis was on accuracy. These reports contradict general quantitative research results which suggest that task planning often leads to complexity, not accuracy. Finally, the lack of planning time as task-external readiness can be partly compensated for by topic familiarity as task-internal readiness. These issues along with their relevant implications in teaching and learning are discussed in this study. 2018 Fltrp, walter de gruyter, cultural and education section british embassy 2018.