Journal of Undergraduate Research


first language accent, German vowel perception, second language




Germanic and Slavic Languages


The role of accent in second language (L2) production and perception has been acknowledged by researchers, but generally only in the sense of limiting their subjects to a specific dialect region to avoid any dialect influence on their results. Some studies have, however, investigated the role of first language accent in L2 production, i.e., pronunciation (Smith & Baker, 2010; Baker & Smith, 2010; O’Brien & Smith, 2010). These studies demonstrate that first language (L1) accent can indeed affect L2 production. The role of the accent to which learners are exposed has also been shown to impact L2 production (Smith, 2010; Escudero & Boersma, 2004). While Smith and several others have looked into the role of first language accent in L2 production, little research has explicitly examined the role of L1 accent in the perception of L2 sounds. As part of a larger project on the effect of L1 accent on L2 sound acquisition, this study seeks to fill the gap on perceptual research while also addressing the theoretical impact of accent on L2 perception in general. In this study, we examine how a native English speaker’s accent (e.g., Scottish, Northern Irish, London, American English (AE), etc.) impacts his or her perception (i.e., identification) of German vowels.