Speakers of English: A Comparative Study of Language Accents and Perception
Date of Award
Restricted Access Thesis
College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences
Reed Mueller, Ph.D.
Using a multi-phasic, mixed methods design, this study aimed to compare the perceptions that individuals speaking English as a second language (L2 English speakers) have of themselves (Phase I) and the perceptions that individuals speaking English as a first language (L1 English speakers) have of L2 English speakers (Phase II). The language background groups of Phase I were Arabic, Japanese, and Spanish. Six L2 English speakers (four males; two females) were interviewed and their transcribed narratives were qualitatively assessed. Language proficiency factors (e.g., length of residency in an English speaking country) were found to be unrelated to their self-perceptions. Rather, cultural backgrounds had a greater, presumed effect. The Phase I participants then provided voice clips that later were heard by 64 participants (25 males; 39 females) in Phase II. As assessed via an independent samples t-test in which a lower score was statistically more positive, the Phase II participants who had past contact with speakers of foreign languages (M = 2.77, SD = .39) more positively perceived the L2 English speakers than the participants who had no past contact (M = 3.00, SD = .13), t(62) = 1.23, p = .210. The effect size, estimated with Cohen’s d, was 1.12. Thus, no statistically significant relationship was found (p > .05). Additionally, hierarchic perception levels concerning the three language groups as they related to the contact and no contact groups were assessed via a MANOVA: F(3, 60) = .37, p = .54; Pillais’ Trace = 0.03, ηp2 = .03. No statistically significant relationship was found (p > .05).