English dictionary and a map of England
English dictionary and a map of England

Reducing prejudiced reactions to non-native accentedness

In this project, we investigate if the negative effects of non-native accents in English on how speakers are evaluated can be reduced by raising awareness of prejudicial reactions among listeners.

Research into the impact of non-native accents has convincingly demonstrated that speakers who have non-native accents in English tend to be downgraded on (perceived) comprehensibility and attitudinal evaluations in daily life, business, and teaching contexts. As non-native accents can be quite salient characteristics, they may play a more important role in the formation of impressions of individuals than, for example, ethnicity or gender, and as such can lead to discrimination and downgrading of speakers, for example in English medium instruction (EMI).

The negative impact of a non-native accent has led researchers to call for studies investigating possible measures that can be implemented to reduce these negative effects, thus shifting the focus towards the role of the listeners. The question in the project is whether listeners will reduce their prejudiced reactions if they are made aware of their tendency to evaluate speakers negatively because of their non-native (Dutch) accent when speaking in English.

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