Students’ Perspectives on Perceived Levels of Intelligibility and Comprehensibility: Comparing the Accents of Native English Teachers (NETs) with Those of Non-Native English Teachers (NNETs)

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Valentin Tassev


The overall objective of this study was to investigate adult Thai students’ perspectives on perceived levels of intelligibility and comprehensibility by comparing the accents of native English teachers (NETs) with those of non-native English teachers (NNETs) through the means of a questionnaire as part of a mixed methods research design. The study found that from students’ perspectives, the accents of NETs are more intelligible than the accents of NNETs on phonetic and grammatical levels. Nevertheless, when examining students’ perspectives on perceived levels of comprehensibility, it was found that the accents of NETs are not necessarily more comprehensible than the accents of NNETs. The findings of this study, thus, imply that in terms of overall comprehension of an utterance, students have the ability to comprehend and interpret non-native speech equally well as native speech throughout their daily interactions in English. Thus, in terms of students’ ever-day communication in English, communicative efficiency ends up being more important and necessary than native-like competence and performance. In the long-term, this ability ends up being even more of a necessary prerequisite, especially in international and intercultural environments where English functions in various forms, serves different purposes and where the internationalization of the language is highly evident, such as Thailand.

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