2004
Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171

Abstract

Abstract

In social interaction, foreign language accent and comprehensibility impact how we perceive our conversational partners. In recent years, research interest in these constructs has been on the rise, while many issues remain underexposed. These issues include the relationship between comprehension and accent on the one hand, and background variables of both learner and assessor on the other. Since most research to date has been conducted with highly educated and advanced learners of English as a second or foreign language, we do not know to what extent those results can be generalised to a wider population that includes beginning learners of Dutch as a second language from various educational backgrounds. In addition, little research has been done into the comparability of the judgements of trained and non-trained assessors. In the current study, we compared the judgments of four trained evaluators with the intuitive judgments of 272 non-trained evaluators (first-year students at various Educational Bachelor’s Programmes in Primary Education). The first group of raters evaluated the speaking performance of 116 learners of Dutch as a second language using standardised criteria, the second group used more subjective criteria. The results show that the two groups of evaluators make very similar judgements and that these judgements are mainly related to two background variables: the nature of the NT2 course the learners followed (also an indicator of prior education and cognitive ability) and the level of language proficiency of the course.

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