Lecture: Which English pleases your ear?
A study of attitudes towards accents of English
Speaking English has become a huge part of our everyday lives. But not everyone speaks the same English – and that is okay. It is estimated that by 2020, roughly 2 billion people will be speaking English at a useful level and be able to hold conversations. With the majority of English-speaking people around the globe being non-native English speakers (meaning that they have learned to speak English at some point for one reason or another), there are bound to be different opinions about the situation as well as advantages and disadvantages of speaking English. Exploring people’s attitudes towards different accents of native and non-native speakers of English is therefore not only interesting, but also necessary.
In this study, learners of English (university students) were first asked to evaluate their use of English and describe their own English. Afterwards, they were asked to evaluate native and non-native speakers of English based on recorded sound samples. Based in the discrepancies in evaluations of native and non-native speakers that were the results of previous studies, I wanted to find out if today’s students have the same ideas about “good” and “bad” English and if “standard English” still holds the monopole of being the only “right” and “good” English there is.