Know thyself? Self- vs. other-assessment of second language pronunciation
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This dissertation investigates how L2 speakers’ assessment of their own pronunciation compares to the assessment of these speakers’ pronunciation by different types of listeners. Study 1 investigated the associations between L2 speakers’ pronunciation self-assessment and the assessment by L1 listeners. Eighty-two L2 English speakers performed a picture narrative task and rated their own speech. These speech samples were also rated by eight inexperienced L1 English listeners. Pearson correlation and paired t-test analyses revealed that the speakers’ self-assessment was significantly different from L1 English listeners’ assessment, and that poor performers overestimated their performance while top performers underestimated it. Study 2 investigated the associations between L2 speakers’ pronunciation self-assessment and the assessment by L1 listeners, L2 listeners who shared an L1 with the speakers, and L2 listeners who did not share an L1 with the speakers. Forty-one L1 Mandarin speakers performed a picture narrative task in English and rated their own pronunciation. These speech samples were also rated by L1 English listeners, L1 Mandarin listeners, and L1 mixed listeners. Pearson correlation and paired t-test analyses revealed that the alignment between self- and other-assessment varied according to the L1 background of the listeners and the construct under evaluation. Study 3 investigated if L2 listeners had an advantage over L1 listeners at comprehending L2 speech, and if the L1 background and proficiency level of the L2 speakers and listeners affected this potential advantage. Forty-one Mandarin-accented English speech samples from a picture narrative task were rated for comprehensibility by three groups of listeners – L1 English listeners, L1 Mandarin listeners, and L1 mixed listeners. Paired t-test analyses revealed that L1 Mandarin listeners perceived the Mandarin-accented speech to be more comprehensible than the L1 English listeners did, and this benefit was observed with three different proficiency combinations when proficiency was taken into consideration. Although overall the L1 mixed listeners did not perceive the Mandarin-accented speech to be more comprehensible than the L1 English listeners did, when proficiency was taken into consideration, the picture was more complex – while a comprehensibility benefit was observed with one specific proficiency combination, a comprehensibility detriment was observed with a different proficiency pairing.