Forewarning as an Intervention against Non-native Accent Bias in An English Medium Instruction Setting.

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With the rise of EMI, lectures are increasingly taught by lecturers who speak with a non-native accent in English. Non-native speakers are often subjected to accent-based bias and prejudice. Negative evaluations of lecturers, based on accentedness, might threaten the quality of education and the reputation of their respective higher education institution. In recent years, researchers have called for intervention strategies to alter listener perceptions, instead of focusing on reducing non-native accentedness. The aim of the present study was to investigate to what extent prejudice towards a non-native accent can be reduced by using a forewarning as an intervention message in an EMI setting. 184 participants took part in an online verbal guise experiment. First they read a forewarning message (with instructions, without instruction, control) about accent prejudice and subsequently they listened to an audio lecture recorded by slightly or moderately Dutch accented speaker. Findings showed that regardless of the forewarning condition, the moderately accented speaker was still rated more negatively than slightly accented speaker on most variables. These findings indicate that accent-based bias is deeply ingrained in listeners and that the forewarning, as operationalised in this experiment, was not an effective tool to momentarily shift listeners’ attitudes.
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