Japanese EFL Learners’ Perceptions of Different Accents in Spoken English

Keywords: perceptions of grammaticality, language attitudes, native/non-native dichotomy, English accents


Due to the worldwide spread and diversification of English, there is far more variety in English accents than ever before. Nonetheless, most Japanese English language learners have continuously been only exposed to “native†English accents, particularly Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American (GA), in their English language classrooms. As the number of “non-native†English speakers exceeds the number of “native†English speakers in the world, it has been recently questioned whether exposing English language learners to only “native†English accents in English language classrooms is appropriate in this globalised world. The present study attempts to investigate 78 Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of  different accents in spoken English. More specifically, the study examines the influence of “native†and “non-native†English accents on Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of grammaticality. Four “native†English speakers (i.e., the UK, the US, and Australia) and four “non-native†English speakers (i.e., Vietnam, Japan, Zimbabwe, and Russia) provided the speech samples used in the study. To measure the Japanese EFL learners’ perceptions of grammaticality, they were asked to listen to thirty-two grammatical and ungrammatical sentences read out by the eight speakers and judge each sentence using binary categories (i.e., grammatical/ungrammatical). Moreover, they were asked to identify the place of origins of each speaker and label them as either “native†speaker or “non-native†speaker. The potential underlying factors influencing their judgements and evaluations are discussed, and the implications for research and teaching are also suggested.

Author Biography

Yurika Ito, Waseda University, Japan

Yurika Ito is currently a PhD student in applied linguistics at Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies, Waseda University, Japan. She also teaches English at Hosei University Kokusai High School. Her research interests are in English pronunciation teaching, the sociolinguistic variation in L1 and L2 English speech, language teacher education, and computer-assisted language learning.