The effect of accent on the perception of American and British English fluent speech in Chinese second language learners


Spoken words are phonologically reduced through various processes (e.g., assimilation) in fluent speech. The reduced forms of words give rise to perceptual difficulties for nonnative speakers. This study examined whether accent types (General American and Received Pronunciation (PR) British Englishes) of native English fluent speech affect fluent speech perception in Chinese speakers. A representative sample of sixty undergraduate students were tested with listening comprehension tests (recordings produced by American and British English speakers), reduced forms dictation test (with American- and British-accented speech as stimuli) and fluent speech production task. Based on correlational analyses, it is shown that listening comprehension was significantly correlated with both fluent speech perception and production skills among the Chinese speakers. Importantly, these correlations were observed within the same accent type and across the two accents. However, our regression analyses showed that speech perception rather than production significantly predicted the outcome of listening comprehension.

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