Yi TanFollow

Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

Sara Cushing

Second Advisor

Stephanie Lindemann

Third Advisor

Youjin Kim

Fourth Advisor

Luke Harding


The present dissertation reports on a second language (L2) perceptual adaptation study, investigating whether or not the assistance of a 60-second exposure to an L2 speaker’s accent improves comprehension of texts delivered by that speaker in the context of a simulated TOEFL iBT listening test. Two L2 speakers (one Turkish and one Ukrainian) recorded four TOEFL iBT listening scripts. A total of 317 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students each listened to four passages (two with the original TOEFL iBT voice actors and two with one of the two L2 speakers) and answered comprehension questions, alongside ratings of accent familiarity and speaker attitudes (across all conditions), and ratings of speaker comprehensibility and exposure efficacy (under conditions with an exposure). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions for the passages featuring L2 speakers: audio-with-script exposure, audio-only exposure, and no exposure.

Many-Facet Rasch Measurement (MFRM) was used to compare passage-level listening comprehension scores and item-level response across four conditions (i.e., audio-with-script, audio-only, no exposure, and baseline), among L2 listeners at three proficiency levels (i.e., high, medium, and low), and between two passage types (i.e., monologic lectures and conversations)/three item types (i.e., main idea, explicit detail, and implicit detail). MFRM analyses revealed that the baseline condition was significantly easier than all experimental conditions across all listening passages, although bias detected between the baseline and the experimental conditions was particularly pronounced on lectures, Lecture 2 in particular, and test items associated with Lecture 2. In addition, a 60-second exposure was most useful for low-proficiency L2 listeners and also necessary for high-proficiency L2 listeners. Factorial ANOVA was employed to analyze L2 listeners’ perceived efficacy of the 60-second exposure and their attitudes towards speakers. Results showed that the 60-second exposure was perceived to be more useful for listening to L2 speakers participating in conversations than delivering lectures, and L2 listeners’ attitudes were overwhelmingly negative towards L2 speakers, whose average favorability ratings were only half of those received by speakers with General American accents. Implications of the findings for test developers of high-stakes English proficiency tests and TESOL practitioners in a multilingual society were discussed.



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