image of Effects of listeners’ dialectal variation on comprehensibility and accentedness judgements of second language
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This study investigated the impact of listeners’ dialectal variations within the same L1 on perceptions of L2 speech comprehensibility and accentedness. Thirty untrained British and American English-L1 raters assessed recorded L2 speech samples from 29 Finnish learners of English and provided scalar judgments for their comprehensibility and accentedness. Four linguistically trained graduate students evaluated the samples for segmental accuracy, speech rate, word stress and intonation. Results of linear mixed models indicated no significant effect of raters’ L1 variety on global comprehensibility and accentedness ratings. While American and British raters relied on same pronunciation features in their comprehensibility judgments, they placed different levels of importance on pronunciation features when making accentedness judgments. Particularly, both groups primarily exhibited sensitivity towards segmental errors in their assessments of accentedness, whereas American raters demonstrated an additional sensitivity to intonation. The findings underscore the complexity of accent perception based on the L1 variety of listeners.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K.
    (2009) Age of acquisition and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception vs. linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, , –. 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2009.00507.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00507.x [Google Scholar]
  2. Algethami, G., Ingram, J., & Nguyen, T.
    (2011) The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit: The case of Arabic accented English. In. J. Levis & K. LeVelle (Eds.). Proceedings of the 2nd Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference, Sept 2010 (pp.–), Ames, IA: Iowa State University.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Anwyl-Irvine, A. L., Massonnié, J., Flitton, A., Kirkham, N., & Evershed, J. K.
    (2020) Gorilla in our midst: An online behavioral experiment builder. Behavior research methods, , –. 10.3758/s13428‑019‑01237‑x
    https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-019-01237-x [Google Scholar]
  4. Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S.
    (2015) Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, (), –. 10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R.
    (2003) The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, (), –. 10.1121/1.1603234
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1603234 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bowden, H. W.
    (2016) Assessing second-language oral proficiency for research: The Spanish elicited imitation task. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, , –. 10.1017/S0272263115000443
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263115000443 [Google Scholar]
  7. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., Saito, K., & Isaacs, T.
    (2015a) Second language comprehensibility revisited: Investigating the effects of learner background. TESOL quarterly, (), –. 10.1002/tesq.203
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.203 [Google Scholar]
  8. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., Isaacs, T., & Saito, K.
    (2015b) Does a speaking task affect second language comprehensibility?The Modern Language Journal, (), –. 10.1111/modl.12185
    https://doi.org/10.1111/modl.12185 [Google Scholar]
  9. Crowther, D., Trofimovich, P., Saito, K., & Isaacs, T.
    (2018) Linguistic dimensions of L2 accentedness and comprehensibility vary across speaking tasks. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S027226311700016X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S027226311700016X [Google Scholar]
  10. Crowther, D.
    (2020) Rating L2 speaker comprehensibility on monologic vs. interactive tasks: What is the effect of speaking task type?Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, (), –. 10.1075/jslp.19019.cro
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.19019.cro [Google Scholar]
  11. Crowther, D., Holden, D., & Urada, K.
    (2022) Second language speech comprehensibility. Language Teaching, (), –. 10.1017/S0261444821000537
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444821000537 [Google Scholar]
  12. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., & Wiebe, G.
    (1998) Evidence in favor of a broad framework for pronunciation instruction. Language Learning, , –. 10.1111/0023‑8333.00047
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00047 [Google Scholar]
  13. Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., Munro, M. J., & Thomson, R. I.
    (2004) Second language fluency: Judgments on different tasks. Language learning, (), –. 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2004.00282.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2004.00282.x [Google Scholar]
  14. Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J.
    (2009) Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication. Language Teaching, , –. 10.1017/S026144480800551X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S026144480800551X [Google Scholar]
  15. (2013) The development of L2 oral language skills in two L1 groups: A 7-year study. Language learning, (), –. 10.1111/lang.12000
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12000 [Google Scholar]
  16. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Foote, J. A., Waugh, E., & Fleming, J.
    (2014) Opening the window on comprehensible pronunciation after 19 years: A workplace training study. Language Learning, (), –. 10.1111/lang.12053
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12053 [Google Scholar]
  17. Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J.
    (2015) Pronunciation fundamentals: Evidence-based perspectives for L2 teaching and research. John Benjamins. 10.1075/lllt.42
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.42 [Google Scholar]
  18. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Thomson, R. I., & Rossiter, M. J.
    (2009) The relationship between L1 fluency and L2 fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263109990015
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263109990015 [Google Scholar]
  19. Field, J.
    (2005) Intelligibility and the listener: The role of lexical stress. TESOL quarterly, (), –. 10.2307/3588487
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588487 [Google Scholar]
  20. Flege, J., Munro, M. J., & MacKay, I. R. A.
    (1995) Factors affecting degree of perceived foreign accent in a second language. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, , –. 10.1121/1.413041
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.413041 [Google Scholar]
  21. Foote, J. A., & McDonough, K.
    (2017) Using shadowing with mobile technology to improve L2 pronunciation. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, (), –. 10.1075/jslp.3.1.02foo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.3.1.02foo [Google Scholar]
  22. Foote, J. A., & Trofimovich, P.
    (2018) Is it because of my language background? A study of language background influence on comprehensibility judgments. Canadian Modern Language Review, (), –. 10.3138/cmlr.2017‑0011
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.2017-0011 [Google Scholar]
  23. Gomez, P.
    (2009) British and American English pronunciation differences. Cambridge: Mayflower Press, (pp.–).
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Hahn, L. D.
    (2004) Primary stress and intelligibility: Research to motivate the teaching of suprasegmentals. TESOL quarterly, (), –. 10.2307/3588378
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588378 [Google Scholar]
  25. Hansen Edwards, J. G., Zampini, M. L., & Cunningham, C.
    (2018) The accentedness, comprehensibility, and intelligibility of Asian Englishes. World Englishes, (), –. 10.1111/weng.12344
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12344 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hayes-Harb, R., Smith, B. L., Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R.
    (2008) The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit for native speakers of Mandarin: Production and perception of English word-final voicing contrasts. Journal of phonetics, (), –. 10.1016/j.wocn.2008.04.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2008.04.002 [Google Scholar]
  27. Huensch, A., & Nagle, C.
    (2021) The effect of speaker proficiency on intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accentedness in L2 Spanish: A conceptual replication and extension of Munro and Derwing (1995a). Language Learning, (), –. 10.1111/lang.12451
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12451 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2022) Revisiting the moderating effect of speaker proficiency on the relationships among intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accentedness in L2 Spanish. Studies in Second Language Acquisition. (), –. 10.1017/S0272263122000213
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263122000213 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kang, O., Rubin, D. O. N., & Pickering, L.
    (2010) Suprasegmental measures of accentedness and judgments of language learner proficiency in oral English. The Modern Language Journal, (), –. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2010.01091.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2010.01091.x [Google Scholar]
  30. Kang, O.
    (2012) Impact of rater characteristics and prosodic features of speaker accentedness on ratings of international teaching assistants’ oral performance. Language Assessment Quarterly, (), –. 10.1080/15434303.2011.642631
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2011.642631 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kang, O., Vo, S. T., & Moran, M. K.
    (2016) Perceptual judgments of accented speech by listeners from different first language backgrounds. TESL-EJ, (), –.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Kostromitina, M., & Plonsky, L.
    (2022) Elicited imitation tasks as a measure of L2 proficiency: A meta-analysis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263121000395
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263121000395 [Google Scholar]
  33. Leppänen, S., Pitkänen-Huhta, A., Nikula, T., Kytölä, S., Törmäkangas, T., Nissinen, K., Kääntä, L., Räisänen, T., Laitinen, M., Pahta, P., Koskela, H., Lähdesmäki, S., & Jousmäki, H.
    (2011) National survey on the English language in Finland: Uses, meanings and attitudes. Studies of Variation, Contacts and Change in English. https://varieng.helsinki.fi/series/volumes/05/index.html
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Levis, J. M.
    (2005) Changing contexts and shifting paradigms in pronunciation teaching. TESOL Quarterly, , –. 10.2307/3588485
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588485 [Google Scholar]
  35. Mackay, I. R., Flege, J. E., & Imai, S.
    (2006) Evaluating the effects of chronological age and sentence duration on degree of perceived foreign accent. Applied Psycholinguistics, (), –. 10.1017/S0142716406060231
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716406060231 [Google Scholar]
  36. McManus, K., & Liu, Y.
    (2022) Using elicited imitation to measure global oral proficiency in SLA research: A close replication study. Language Teaching, (), –. 10.1017/S026144482000021X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S026144482000021X [Google Scholar]
  37. Morris-Wilson, I.
    (1999) Attitudes towards Finnish-accented English. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Stirling.
  38. Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M.
    (1999) Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, , –. 10.1111/0023‑8333.49.s1.8
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.49.s1.8 [Google Scholar]
  39. (2001) Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility of L2 speech the role of speaking rate. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263101004016
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263101004016 [Google Scholar]
  40. (2006) The functional load principle in ESL pronunciation instruction: An exploratory study. System, (), –. 10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2006.09.004 [Google Scholar]
  41. (2020) Foreign accent, comprehensibilityint and intelligibility, redux. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, (), –. 10.1075/jslp.20038.mun
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.20038.mun [Google Scholar]
  42. Nagle, C.
    (2019) Developing and validating a methodology for crowdsourcing L2 speech ratings in Amazon Mechanical Turk. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, (), –. 10.1075/jslp.18016.nag
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.18016.nag [Google Scholar]
  43. Nagle, C. L., & Rehman, I.
    (2021) Doing L2 speech research online: Why and how to collect online ratings data. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263121000292
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263121000292 [Google Scholar]
  44. Norris, J. M., Sasayama, S., & Kim, M.
    (2022) The relationship between poststimulus pause, learner proficiency, and working memory in an Elicited Imitation Task. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263122000274
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263122000274 [Google Scholar]
  45. O’Brien, M. G.
    (2014) L2 learners’ assessments of accentedness, fluency, and comprehensibility of native and nonnative German speech. Language Learning, (), –. 10.1111/lang.12082
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12082 [Google Scholar]
  46. Ockey, G. J., & French, R.
    (2016) From one to multiple accents on a test of L2 listening comprehension. Applied Linguistics, (), –. 10.1093/applin/amu060
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amu060 [Google Scholar]
  47. Ortega, L., Iwashita, N., Norris, J. M., & Rabie, S.
    (2002) An investigation of elicited imitation tasks in crosslinguistic SLA research. Paper presented at the20th Second Language Research Forum, Toronto, October 3–6, 2002 [Unpublished handout retrieved from IRIS]
  48. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2021) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URLhttps://www.R-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Saito, K.
    (2021) What characterizes comprehensible and native-like pronunciation among English-as-a-second-language speakers? Meta-analyses of phonological, rater, and instructional factors. TESOL Quarterly, (), –. 10.1002/tesq.3027
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.3027 [Google Scholar]
  50. Saito, K., & Akiyama, Y.
    (2017) Linguistic correlates of comprehensibility in second language Japanese speech. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, (), –. 10.1075/jslp.3.2.02sai
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jslp.3.2.02sai [Google Scholar]
  51. Saito, K., & Liu, Y.
    (2022) Roles of collocation in L2 oral proficiency revisited: Different tasks, L1 vs. L2 raters, and cross-sectional vs. longitudinal analyses. Second Language Research, (), –. 10.1177/0267658320988055
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658320988055 [Google Scholar]
  52. Saito, K., & Shintani, N.
    (2016) Do native speakers of North American and Singapore English differentially perceive second language comprehensibility?TESOL Quarterly, , –. 10.1002/tesq.234
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.234 [Google Scholar]
  53. Saito, K., Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2016) Second language speech production: Investigating linguistic correlates of comprehensibility and accentedness for learners at different ability levels. Applied Psycholinguistics, (), –. 10.1017/S0142716414000502
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716414000502 [Google Scholar]
  54. Saito, K., Tran, M., Suzukida, Y., Sun, H., Magne, V., & Ilkan, M.
    (2019) How do second language listeners perceive the comprehensibility of foreign-accented speech?: Roles of first language profiles, second language proficiency, age, experience, familiarity, and metacognition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263119000226
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263119000226 [Google Scholar]
  55. Saito, K., Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2017) Using listener judgements to investigate linguistic influences on L2 comprehensibility and accentedness: A validation and generalization study. Applied Linguistics, , –. 10.1093/applin/amv047
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amv047 [Google Scholar]
  56. Schmid, M. S., & Hopp, H.
    (2014) Comparing foreign accent in L1 attrition and L2 acquisition: Range and rater effects. Language Testing, (), –. 10.1177/0265532214526175
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532214526175 [Google Scholar]
  57. Smith, B., Bradlow, A. R., Bent, T., Solé, M. J., Recasens, D., & Romero, J.
    (2003) Production and perception of temporal contrasts in foreign-accented English. InProceedings of the XVth international congress of phonetic sciences, Barcelona, Spain (pp.–).
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Stibbard, R. M., & Lee, J. I.
    (2006) Evidence against the mismatched interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit hypothesis. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, (), –. 10.1121/1.2203595
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2203595 [Google Scholar]
  59. Suzuki, S., & Kormos, J.
    (2020) Linguistic dimensions of comprehensibility and perceived fluency: An investigation of complexity, accuracy, and fluency in second language argumentative speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263119000421
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263119000421 [Google Scholar]
  60. Suzukida, Y., & Saito, K.
    (2019) Which segmental features matter for successful L2 comprehensibility? Revisiting and generalizing the pedagogical value of the functional load principle. Language Teaching Research(), –. 10.1177/1362168819858246
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168819858246 [Google Scholar]
  61. Tergujeff, E.
    (2021) Second language comprehensibility and accentedness across oral proficiency levels: A comparison of two L1s. System, . 10.1016/j.system.2021.102567
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2021.102567 [Google Scholar]
  62. Trein, A. D., Alves, U. K., & Luchini, P. L.
    (2022) Comprehensibility ratings in non-native speaker-listener bibomials: Implications for NNL teaching. Perspectivas para o ensino de línguas, –.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2012) Disentangling accent from comprehensibility. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, , –. 10.1017/S1366728912000168
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728912000168 [Google Scholar]
  64. Wu, S. L., Tio, Y. P., & Ortega, L.
    (2022) Elicited imitation as a measure of L2 proficiency: New insights from a comparison of two L2 English parallel forms. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, (), –. 10.1017/S0272263121000103
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263121000103 [Google Scholar]
  65. Xi, X., & Mollaun, P.
    (2009) How do raters from India perform in scoring the TOEFL iBT™ speaking section and what kind of training helps?ETS Research Report Series, 2009(), –. 10.1002/j.2333‑8504.2009.tb02188.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2333-8504.2009.tb02188.x [Google Scholar]
  66. Xie, X., & Fowler, C. A.
    (2013) Listening with a foreign-accent: The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit in Mandarin speakers of English. Journal of Phonetics, (), –. 10.1016/j.wocn.2013.06.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2013.06.003 [Google Scholar]
  67. Yao, Z., Saito, K., Trofimovich, P., & Isaacs, T.
    (2013) Z-Lab [Computer software]. Retrieved fromhttps://github.com/ZeshanYao/Z-Lab

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: dialects ; comprehensibility ; accentedness ; second language speech
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error