L2 Accent and Ethics: Issues that Merit Attention

Tracey M. Derwing, Helen Fraser, Okim Kang, Ron I. Thomson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

25 Scopus citations


Although most teachers of English are well aware that their students may sometimes experience discrimination in reaction to their L2 accents, they may not realize the extensive range of factors that contribute to negative consequences for individuals with foreign accents; neither may they realize the degree to which accent can disadvantage a speaker beyond day-to-day interactions. In this chapter, we explore several issues where accent and ethics cross and are often in conflict. We examine an overview of the relationship of accent and intelligibility, and will discuss state legislation that seems to conflate the concepts. We then describe methods used in language analysis for determination of origin of refugee claimants (LADO) and the problem of untrained native speakers making life and death decisions. In a review of accent reduction programs, we expose some of the hucksterism made by opportunists who make promises they can’t possibly keep. We also address the responsibility of the interlocutor in ESL settings, and how communication with and attitudes towards L2 speakers may be enhanced. Finally, we outline implications of the studies reviewed here for language teacher education programs, language teachers, governments, employers, and most importantly, for L2 accented speakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMultilingual Education
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameMultilingual Education
ISSN (Print)2213-3208
ISSN (Electronic)2213-3216


  • Accent
  • Accent modification
  • Accent reduction
  • Cross-cultural awareness
  • LADO
  • Language analysis for the determination of origin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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