English Accent Evaluation: A Study on Indonesian EFL Learners' Perception

By Mardijono, Josefa J. | K@ta, December 2003 | Go to article overview

English Accent Evaluation: A Study on Indonesian EFL Learners' Perception


Mardijono, Josefa J., K@ta


Abstract: This paper is based on the survey of one hundred and six English Department Students' perception of four English accents: North American English, British English, Australian English and New Zealand English. The study reveals the students' identification of the four English accents, their perceived ease of comprehending them, and their exposure to the English accents, seen through their stay in the English speaking countries and the three mostly watched undubbed English TV programs/films.

Key words: English accent, perception, exposure.

(ProQuest Information and Learning: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

English, as a global language, is spoken as a native language in many regions, each with its own accent, its own pattern of pronunciation, showing that "English is not at all uniform in pronunciation" (Ronowicz & Yallop, 1999, p. 26). Concerning the spread of the English language around the world, Kachru suggests "three concentric circles, representing different ways in which the language has been acquired and is currently used". The three circles are "the inner circle, the outer circle or extending circle and the expanding circle". The inner circle refers to "the traditional bases of English including the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand". The outer circle refers to the earlier phrases of the spread of English in non-native settings where the English language plays an important "second language" role in multilingual settings which includes "Singapore, India, Malawi and over fifty other territories". The expanding circle involves "those nations which recognize the importance of English as an international language including China, Japan, Greece, Poland and a steadily increasing number of other states". (Crystal, 2002, pp. 53-54) Considering its role as a foreign language in the society, Indonesia can be considered the expanding circle.

As a foreign language in Indonesia, English is recognized as an international lingua franca. Due to its importance in global communication, English has gained a significant place in education, formally as well as informally. In recent years English has been introduced since the elementary schools. Some preschools or playgroups even include it as the subject matter to be taught to very young learners. There has also been an increase of number of English programs and institutions offering courses to adults as well as young learners. Considering its role as a global language, English learners need to be made aware of the fact that English is not uniform in pronunciation, that there are different accents of English spoken in different regions besides the accent being taught to them, which, in Indonesia, is usually modeled after the two mostly known accents, British or American.

Evaluating English Accents Worldwide is a multinational English accents evaluation survey, designed by Bayard and Weatheall, based in University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. It is made up of an international group of researchers interested in analyzing the evaluation of different national and ethnic groups on four of the standard accents of English: Near Received Pronunciation, the educated Southern English English or Near-BBC English, General North American, Australian and New-Zealand. There were twenty researchers in fourteen different countries participating in the project, published in its website, (http:/www.Otago.ac.nz/anthropology/linguistics.html), retrieved in April, 2004, whereas none was working on the Indonesian subjects. It was also stated that all researchers share access to the data obtained and may use them for any ethical research purpose. This has aroused my interest to take part in the multinational project, focusing on the Indonesian EFL learners' perceptibility in identifying the four different accents of English and their relative ease of comprehending them and the factors that may affect their perceptibility and ease of comprehending the four different accents. …

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