An Analysis of ESL Learner Preferences for Native Accent Retention and Reduction


Pronunciation pedagogy, accent retention, accent reduction


Though most ESL learners desire a “native-like” pronunciation, researchers have observed that some may want to retain features of their L1accents as a means of maintaining identity. This raises important questions about the best ways to teach L2 pronunciation. Therefore, the aims of this study were to discover how pervasive a preference for accent retention may be and to identify possible reasons learners exhibit this preference. To accomplish this, a scale was designed to assess a preference for accent retention, and potential explanatory variables were identified. Analyses of 350 ESL learners identified varying levels of a preference for accent retention, and revealed three significant predictors of this tendency. This article explores possible reasons for the observed results, including an effort to unify the findings through what is referred to as a propensity for proximal linguistic status. Some considerations for ESL pronunciation pedagogy are also discussed.