Second-language learners perceive their own accent as better than that of their peers

beSpacific 2020-02-11

Mitterer H, Eger NA, Reinisch E (2020) My English sounds better than yours: Second-language learners perceive their own accent as better than that of their peers. PLoS ONE 15(2): e0227643. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227643

“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. We hypothesised that L2 learners may perceive their own accent as closer to the target language than the accent of other learners, due to frequent exposure to their own productions. This was tested by recording 24 female native speakers of German producing 60 sentences. The same participants later rated these recordings for accentedness. Importantly, the recordings had been altered to sound male so that participants were unaware of their own productions in the to-be-rated samples. We found evidence supporting our hypothesis: participants rated 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 objective feedback may be crucial in fostering L2 acquisition and reduce fossilization of erroneous patterns…”