Student attitudes toward their instructor accents in L2 Spanish and French Courses

Carmen Miranda-Barrios

Abstract


The controversy about language instructors’ accent (i.e., the manner of pronunciation) has mainly targeted the perceptions and attitudes of learners of English as a foreign and second language (ESL/EFL). Some studies have consistently shown a tendency for learners to favour a native- speaking accent or being able to speak like a native speaker (Butler, 2007; Derwing, 2003). However less is known about this topic in Romance language learning.

The current study analyzed the attitudes and preferences learners of two Romance languages reported on how their instructors pronounced the target languages. The study also examined students’ attitudes toward their instructors’ accent on their own pronunciation and comprehension of the second language (L2). The participants were 20 third-year learners of Spanish as a foreign language; and 20 third-year learners of French as a second language at a post-secondary institution in Canada. The data were collected through an attitudinal questionnaire (quantitative data) and a semi-structured interview (qualitative data).

It was predicted that students would prefer an instructor with a native accent over an instructor with a non-native accent because of a facilitative effect on their pronunciation and comprehension of the L2. Results showed that both clusters of language learners (Spanish and French) favoured an instructor with a native accent and also showed the belief that the instructors’ native accent has a positive effect on their L2 pronunciation, but not on their L2 comprehension. Qualitative results suggested what strengths and limitations students believe each type of instructor’s accent offers for the language classroom. Furthermore, suggestions for the L2 classroom were proposed.


Keywords


language attitudes; romance languages; accent

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria