First Advisor

Kimberley Brown

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Teaching English as a Second Language


English language -- Accents and accentuation, English language -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Japanese speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource ( vii, 112 p.)


As the result of historical events and the adaptive nature of the language itself, English is generally accepted today as the world's international language. While various countries have adapted the English language to serve their own specific needs, the question of whether or not the changes made to English in these countries, for example phonological, will still enable the language to be intelligible in the international arena. If English is to be the de facto world language, then international intelligibility should be an important goal. For this research, 211 Japanese university students were asked to assess the intelligibility and comprehensibility of the English spoken by educated speakers from Japan, Taiwan, India and the United States. These countries were chosen based on Kachru's Inner, Outer, and Expanding Circles of English. The Inner Circle includes the traditional "native" English speaking countries such as the United States and Great Britain. The Outer Circle includes countries such as India or Malaysia where English is used for intranational purposes. The Expanding Circle refers to those countries such as Japan or Egypt where English use is widespread yet serves few intranational purposes. In addition for this research, intelligibility is defined specifically as word/utterance recognition, and comprehensibility as word/utterance meaning. Results showed that these Japanese university students assessed the Japanese speaker to be the most intelligible, the Taiwanese and American speaker were found to be statistically the same, and the Indian speaker was judged to be the least intelligible. For the comprehensibility element, the Japanese speaker was assessed as the most comprehensible followed by the Taiwanese, Indian and American speakers. If international intelligibility is looked at in terms of a range of what accents will be deemed acceptable for multinational communication, then Japanese university students appear to only understand part of this range. If Japanese EFL students wish to communicate more widely within the English speaking world, then steps are needed to expand the range of internationally intelligible accents that will be understood. Activities such as pronunciation practice will help Japanese EFL students comprehend the intonation patterns found among Inner Circle speakers which includes American English speakers.


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