The Effects of International Accents and Shared First Language on Listening Comprehension Tests

Okim Kang, Ron Thomson, Meghan Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study examines the effect of incorporating a variety of international English accents into a simulated TOEFL listening comprehension test in growing recognition of internationalization of language teaching and learning in the field of TESOL. Although some high-stakes English proficiency exams have begun incorporating speech samples produced by speakers from a range of inner circle English-speaking backgrounds (e.g., Britain, the United States, Australia), the inclusion of samples produced by speakers of outer and expanding circle English varieties (e.g., India, Nigeria, Mexico, South Korea) has been largely avoided. For this study the researchers recruited speakers from six distinct English varieties to produce speech samples for a mock TOEFL iBT listening exam. Listeners who spoke with the same six international English accents were then recruited to take the resulting tests. Results indicate that when accented English is highly comprehensible, listening test scores for stimuli based on high-proficiency speakers of outer and expanding circle varieties of English are not significantly lower than they are in response to stimuli based on inner circle varieties of English. With respect to a shared first language effect on test scores when test materials are spoken in the test taker's own accent, results are complex but inconclusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-81
Number of pages26
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effects of International Accents and Shared First Language on Listening Comprehension Tests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this