Relative difficulty of understanding foreign accents as a marker of proficiency

Shiri Lev Ari, Marieke van Heugten, Sharon Peperkamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Foreign-accented speech is generally harder to understand than native-accented speech. This difficulty is reduced for non-native listeners who share their first language with the non-native speaker. It is currently unclear, however, how non-native listeners deal with foreign-accented speech produced by speakers of a different language. We show that the process of (second) language acquisition is associated with an increase in the relative difficulty of processing foreign-accented speech. Therefore, experiencing greater relative difficulty with foreign-accented speech compared with native speech is a marker of language proficiency. These results contribute to our understanding of how phonological categories are acquired during second language learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106-1118
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

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