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Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 899–911 | Cite as

Unfamiliar Accented English Negatively Affects EFL Listening Comprehension: It Helps to be a More Able Accent Mimic

  • Yu-Lin Cheng
Article

Abstract

In this study, EFL learners who listened to four short context-rich audio files each delivered in an unfamiliar English accent were required to produce best-attempt transcriptions and accent imitation recordings. Results indicate that exposure alone does not suffice to eliminate accent impact on EFL listeners. Importantly, results from one-way ANOVA analyses reveal between-participants differences in residual accent impact, vocabulary knowledge, and quality of accent imitation. Results from a linear mixed-effects model analysis, while suggesting that other unidentified factors may also assist EFL listeners in processing unfamiliar accented English, demonstrate that the more able mimics cope more successfully with unfamiliar accents than the less able mimics. Counter-intuitively, vocabulary knowledge is rejected as a predictor for success in reducing accent impact. A logical explanation for this particular finding is that a larger vocabulary repertoire aids listeners where there is no interference from unfamiliar accents. Given these findings, to better prepare EFL listeners for the English-as-an-International-Language world, training should include both listening to a variety of native and non-native accents and performing accent imitation (reproduction) exercises to further expand listeners’ phonological-phonetic flexibility.

Keywords

EFL Accent impact Chinese-L1 Accent imitation 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishNational Dong Hwa UniversityHualien CountyTaiwan

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