Japanese EFL Learners’ Perceptions of Different Accents in Spoken English
Due to the worldwide spread and diversification of English, there is far more variety in English accents than ever before. Nonetheless, most Japanese English language learners have continuously been only exposed to “native” English accents, particularly Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA), in their English language classrooms. As the number of “non-native” English speakers exceeds the number of “native” English speakers in the world, it has been recently questioned whether exposing English language learners to only “native” English accents in English language classrooms is appropriate in this globalised world. The present study attempts to investigate 78 Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of different accents in spoken English. More specifically, the study examines the influence of “native” and “non-native” English accents on Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of grammaticality. Four “native” English speakers (i.e., the UK, the US, and Australia) and four “non-native” English speakers (i.e., Vietnam, Japan, Zimbabwe, and Russia) provided the speech samples used in the study. To measure the Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of grammaticality, they were asked to listen to thirty-two grammatical and ungrammatical sentences read out by the eight speakers and judge each sentence using binary categories (i.e., grammatical/ungrammatical). Moreover, they were asked to identify the place of origins of each speaker and label them as either “native” speaker or “non-native” speaker. The potential underlying factors influencing their judgements and evaluations are discussed, and the implications for research and teaching are also suggested.
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