The effect of prompt accent on elicited imitation assessments in English as a second language
Jacob G. Barrows & Troy L. Cox, Brigham Young University, USA
Volume 10, Issue 2, 2021
Abstract: Elicited imitation (EI) assessments have been shown to discriminate well between speakers across proficiency levels, but little has been reported on the effect L2 accent has on test-takers’ ability to understand and process the test items they hear. Furthermore, no study has investigated the effect of accent on test-taker perceptions of EI tests. This study examined the relationships among accent, accent familiarity, EI test item difficulty and test scores. To investigate, self-reports of students’ exposure to different varieties of English were obtained from a preassessment survey. An EI test (63 items) was then administered in which English language learners (n = 213) in the United States listened to test items in three varieties of English: American English, Australian English, and British English. A Rasch analysis found that the test had high reliability (person separation = .94), with intended item level and accent both having a significant effect on test item difficulty. Survey results indicated a moderate relationship between an examinee’s familiarity with a particular accent and their person ability estimate measures. These findings suggest that prompt accent should be considered in EI test development.
Keywords: Elicited imitation, accent, listening comprehension, speaking assessment, Rasch measurement