Perceptions of World Englishes Accents in English Phonetics Instruction of China

Zhengwei Pei, Yanhong Xing

Abstract


With the notion of World Englishes (WE) accepted in the academia, the past decade has witnessed ten studies or so conducted to scrutinize how English learners of China perceptually evaluate English varieties. Those studies, however, seldom explore the juncture between learners’ attitudes toward accent varieties of English and their expectations of English phonetics instruction. Additionally, they primarily draw quantitative data from surveys of large samples without providing in-depth viewpoints from learners themselves. This study aimed to investigate Chinese tertiary-level English learners’ attitudes toward WE accents and how they view accents situated in English phonetics instruction with cross-validated research methods including an accent recognition test, an attitudinal experiment, a questionnaire survey, and semi-structured interviews. Its participants were 64 sophomore English majors at a Chinese university; the accents examined were American English (AmE), British English (BrE), China English (ChE), Australian English, Indian English, and Korean English. Results indicate that students could recognize AmE and BrE better than other accents and that they identified with BrE most, but preferred to imitate AmE and welcome Americans as their phonetics teachers. Results also show students’ propensity for setting a native speaker norm, rather than adopting ChE as a model, at phonetics class. Based on the findings, the study concluded that nowadays teachers for English majors in China still need to adhere to the native speaker model in English phonetics instruction, and meanwhile, expose their students to various WE accents in order to facilitate their English phonetics learning and cultivate their awareness of WE.

 


Keywords


English majors, attitudes, expectations, World Englishes accents, English phonetics instruction

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.5n.4p.183

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