Perception of our accent

The perception of our accent

My English sounds better than yours! Learners of a second language perceive their own accent as better than that of their peers. The main reason for this is frequent exposure to their own speech.

Second language learners are often aware of the typical pronunciation errors that speakers of their native language make, yet often persist in making these errors themselves.

This was tested recording 24 female native speakers of German producing 60 sentences in English. The same participants later rated the accent of these recordings. Importantly, the recordings had been altered to sound masculine, so that participants were unaware of their own productions in the to-be-rated samples. Evidence was found that participants assessed their own altered voice, which they did not recognize as their own, as being closer to a native speaker than that of other learners. 

This finding suggests that relying on self-monitoring alone may not be sufficient to lead to improvement in the second language, with objective feedback by teachers being crucial in fostering second language acquisition and reducing fossilization of erroneous patterns.

Source: PlosOne

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