University Students’ Preferences of Assessing Levels of Intelligibility and Comprehensibility of Native English Teachers’ (NETs) Accents Compared to Non-native English Teachers’ (NNETs) Accents: A Case-Study with Undergraduate Students at Huachiew Chalerm
Keywords:accent, comprehensibility, familiarity, intelligibility, native English teacher, non-native English teacher, preferences
This study investigates students’ preferences regarding perceived levels of intelligibility and comprehensibility of various English accents, and also students’ preferences regarding the accents they would like to use in their future communication in English. The findings suggest that from students’ perspectives, the accents of native English teachers (NETs) were both more intelligible and comprehensible than the accents of non-native English teachers (NNETs). The findings strongly suggest that the majority of the participants expressed preference for native speaker (NS) accents as their desired future models of use in terms of oral production. The findings also revealed that the issue of familiarity or exposure to those particular accents was extremely important in terms of determining their preferences for accents, both in terms of input and output. These preferences were largely shaped by a prevailing sociological construct or bias in favour of NS models, as the desired accent models for Thai learners of English, a construct which largely dominates the theory and practice of teaching and assessing pronunciation. The suggestions are that students need to be informed and introduced to a variety of accents of English, both various NS and non-native speaker (NNS) accents, as students’ future interlocutors will include large numbers of both, especially in an intercultural and international setting, such as Thailand.