Perceptions of World Englishes Accents in English Phonetics Instruction of China

Zhengwei Pei, Yanhong Xing


With the notion of World Englishes (WE) accepted in the academia, the past decade has witnessed ten studies or so conducted to scrutinize how English learners of China perceptually evaluate English varieties. Those studies, however, seldom explore the juncture between learners’ attitudes toward accent varieties of English and their expectations of English phonetics instruction. Additionally, they primarily draw quantitative data from surveys of large samples without providing in-depth viewpoints from learners themselves. This study aimed to investigate Chinese tertiary-level English learners’ attitudes toward WE accents and how they view accents situated in English phonetics instruction with cross-validated research methods including an accent recognition test, an attitudinal experiment, a questionnaire survey, and semi-structured interviews. Its participants were 64 sophomore English majors at a Chinese university; the accents examined were American English (AmE), British English (BrE), China English (ChE), Australian English, Indian English, and Korean English. Results indicate that students could recognize AmE and BrE better than other accents and that they identified with BrE most, but preferred to imitate AmE and welcome Americans as their phonetics teachers. Results also show students’ propensity for setting a native speaker norm, rather than adopting ChE as a model, at phonetics class. Based on the findings, the study concluded that nowadays teachers for English majors in China still need to adhere to the native speaker model in English phonetics instruction, and meanwhile, expose their students to various WE accents in order to facilitate their English phonetics learning and cultivate their awareness of WE.



English majors, attitudes, expectations, World Englishes accents, English phonetics instruction

Full Text:



Baker, A. (2007). Ship or sheep? An intermediate pronunciation course (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bayard, D., Weatherall, A., Gallois, C., & Pittam, J. (2001). Pax Americana? Accent attitudinal evaluations in New Zealand, Australia and America. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 5(1), 22-49. doi:10.1111/1467-9481.00136,

Dai, Y. (2000). Phonetic features of Indian English. Journal of PLA University of Foreign Languages, 23(6), 58-60.

Ding, P. (1992). The differences between General British English and General American English. Foreign Language Teaching and Research, (1), 63-67.

Gao, Y., & Lin, M. (2008). The attitude towards World Englishes among volunteers of Olympic Games. Journal of Xinjiang Normal University, 29(4), 86-92.

He, D. Y., & Li, D. C. S. (2009). Language attitudes and linguistic features in the ‘China English’ debate. World Englishes, 28(1), 70-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-971X.2008.01570.x,

Hu, X. (2005). China English, at home and in the world. English Today, 21(3), 27-38. doi:10.1017/S026607840500307X,

Hu, X. (2004). Why China English should stand alongside British, American, and the other World Englishes. English Today, 20(2), 26-33. doi: 10.1017/S0266078404002056,

Kang, O. (2015). Learners’ perceptions toward pronunciation instruction in three circles of World Englishes. TESOL Journal, 6(1), 59-80. doi: 10.1002/tesj.146,

Kirkpatrick, A., & Xu, Z. C. (2002). Chinese pragmatic norms and ‘China English’. World Englishes, 21(2), 269-279. doi: 10.1111/1467-971X.00247,

Ladegaard, H. J., & Sachdev, I. (2006). I like the Americans...but I certainly don’t aim for an American accent: Language attitudes, vitality and foreign language learning in Denmark. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 27(2), 91-108. doi:10.1080/01434630608668542,

Pei, Z. (2014). The theory, choice and thinking on English phonetics teaching model. Foreign Language World, (3), 88-96.

Weinberger, S. (2014). Speech accent archive. [Online] Available: (March 27, 2016)

Xu, H., & Gao, Y. (2014). The attitudes of Chinese student volunteers toward World Englishes before and after four intercultural communication events. Foreign Language Education in China, 35(1), 43-48.

Wang, G. (2005). English Pronunciation and Intonation for Communication (2nd ed.). Beijing: Higher Education Press.

Zhou, R., & Chen, G. (2008). A study of Chinese university students’ attitude to American and British English. Modern Foreign Languages, 31(1), 49-57.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.