Mandarin Speakers' Perception of Accented L2-English: the Effects of Accent, Linguistic Experience, and L2 Proficiency

Ying Li
Journal article Language Teaching and Educational Research • June 2018

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(English, 13 pages)

Abstract

In much previous research, language listeners were found to perform differently when listening to a second language (L2) spoken in foreign/native accents. Influential factors have not been ascertained. This study aimed to gain new insights into this issue. 82 Mandarin speakers of different L2 (English) proficiency and different degrees of familiarity with Cantonese, Thai, and Yorkshire accent participated in the study. The stimuli were 40 English sentences with a noun as the last word (stimulus word). The stimulus words were gated with gate 0 revealing no phonological information, gate 1 displaying the first 40 ms of it, gate 2 having an additional 40 ms, etc., accumulating until the end of the word was revealed. The sentences were spoken in the accent of Mandarin, Yorkshire, Cantonese, and Thai. The participants were asked to write down the stimulus words each time after they heard a gated sentence. The results indicated that the participants required significantly less phonological information to correctly recognize the stimuli spoken in their own and Yorkshire accent than in Thai and Cantonese accent. Moreover, the participants' degree of familiarity with the accents and their L2-English proficiency both had a significant effect on their perceptual performance.

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Language Teaching and Educational Research

Language Teaching and Educational Research (LATER) is an international, biannual, peer-reviewed a... see more