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Flawed self-assessment: Investigating self- and other-perception of second language speech*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2014

Concordia University
University of Bristol
Concordia University
Waseda University
Michigan State University
Address for correspondence: Pavel Trofimovich, Concordia University, Department of Education, 1445 de Maisonneuve Blvd., West Montreal, Quebec, CanadaH3G


This study targeted the relationship between self- and other-assessment of accentedness and comprehensibility in second language (L2) speech, extending prior social and cognitive research documenting weak or non-existing links between people's self-assessment and objective measures of performance. Results of two experiments (N = 134) revealed mostly inaccurate self-assessment: speakers at the low end of the accentedness and comprehensibility scales overestimated their performance; speakers at the high end of each scale underestimated it. For both accent and comprehensibility, discrepancies in self- versus other-assessment were associated with listener-rated measures of phonological accuracy and temporal fluency but not with listener-rated measures of lexical appropriateness and richness, grammatical accuracy and complexity, or discourse structure. Findings suggest that inaccurate self-assessment is linked to the inherent complexity of L2 perception and production as cognitive skills and point to several ways of helping L2 speakers align or calibrate their self-assessment with their actual performance.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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This study was funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (FRQSC) awarded to the first, second, and third authors, a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (European Commission) awarded to the second author, and by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research in Japan (No. 26770202) awarded to the fourth author. We are grateful to participants, Ze Shan Yao for his technical help, and to anonymous BLC reviewers for their helpful input and feedback on the content of this manuscript.


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