Perceiving Identity through Accent Lenses: A Case Study of a Chinese English Speaker’s Perceptions of Her Pronunciation and Perceived Social Identity

Karolina Achirri


Despite globalization making English a lingua franca, little is known how accent relates to learners’ identity. In this case study, I focus on a second language (L2) English user’s perspective. Specifically, I examine a Chinese speaker’s of English perceptions of the relationship between identity and pronunciation (accent). Drawing on Norton’s (2000) notion of identity, I applied a 6-point Likert scale questionnaire and conducted an in-depth semi-structured interview. My findings indicate that accent and identity are closely linked, but my participant was not willing to sacrifice intelligible speech to identify with the American society. For this participant, speaking comprehensibly was more important than developing a new L2 identity. I delineate possible pedagogical implication and suggestions for future research.

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