Using listener judgements to investigate linguistic influences on L2 comprehensibility and accentedness: a validation and generalization study

Kazuya Saito, Pavel Trofimovich, Talia Isaacs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current study investigated linguistic influences on comprehensibility (ease of understanding) and accentedness (linguistic nativelikeness) in second language (L2) learners’ extemporaneous speech. Target materials included picture narratives from 40 native French speakers of English from different proficiency levels. The narratives were subsequently rated by 20 native speakers with or without linguistic and pedagogical experience for comprehensibility, accentedness, and 11 linguistic variables spanning the domains of phonology, lexis, grammar, and discourse structure. Results showed that comprehensibility was associated with several linguistic variables (vowel/consonant errors, word stress, fluency, lexis, grammar), whereas accentedness was chiefly linked to pronunciation (vowel/consonant errors, word stress). Native-speaking listeners thus appear to pay particular attention to pronunciation, rather than lexis and grammar, to evaluate nativelikeness but tend to consider various sources of linguistic information in L2 speech in judging comprehensibility. The use of listener ratings (perceptual measures) in evaluating linguistic aspects of learner speech and their implications for language assessment and pedagogy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalApplied Linguistics
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2015

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