Native Speakers' Perception of Non - Native English Speech

Maysa Jaber, Riyad F. Hussein


This study is aimed at investigating the rating and intelligibility of different non-native varieties of English, namely French English, Japanese English and Jordanian English by native English speakers and their attitudes towards these foreign accents. To achieve the goals of this study, the researchers used a web-based questionnaire which targeted native speakers of English. The materials for this study were a questionnaire for respondents to fill out and tape recordings of six different short stories, each of which was recorded by a non native speaker of English. The first short story was tape- recorded by a male French speaker and the second by a female French speaker. Similarly, the other four short stories were tape-recorded by male and female Japanese and Jordanian speakers respectively. The respondents or raters consisted of 110 native speakers of English (78 females and 32 females); the majority of them from the USA, but there were others from Britain, Canada, and Australia. They were requested to surf the webpage www. englishforeignaccent .com, especially designed by the researchers, fill out the questionnaire and rate the non-native varieties under investigation, and four months later the number of respondents reached one hundred and ten which constituted the sample of the study.

Data obtained indicated that the Jordanian accent was considered as the most intelligible, followed by the French then the Japanese English accent. The native speakers also showed significantly more positive attitudes towards Jordanian English than French and Japanese English. Finally, the positive attitude towards Jordanian English was affirmed by the respondents who assigned the Jordanian English speakers to the most prestigious professions such as medicine and teaching.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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