Accents and Identity: Adult ESL Students’ Attitudes

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This study explores the relationship between accent, identity, and sense of belonging for adult ESL immigrants to Canada. Forty-two adult immigrant ESL students at a post-secondary institution in western Canada participated in a survey about their attitudes towards their accents, the value they attribute to their first language and first culture, and how their accents affect their identities and sense of belonging in Canada. Eighty-one percent indicated that they would like to sound like a native speaker if possible, but in response to another question, 25% said they would not be happy to be mistaken as native speakers (NSs). The majority (67%) said they would feel more Canadian if they sounded like a NS. They reported valuing both their first culture and Canadian culture, demonstrating a pattern of ‘integration’ in Berry’s (2005) acculturation styles. Participants’ sense of belonging was modest. This may be attributed to their relatively short average time in Canada: 2.5 years. Overall, attitudes were found to be more complex than some research has suggested. Implications are discussed in terms of L2 users’ intelligibility, and instructional materials in the ESL classroom.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International