Harding, Luke (2012) Accent, listening assessment and the potential for a shared-L1 advantage:a DIF perspective. Language Testing, 29 (2). pp. 163-180. ISSN 0265-5322
This paper reports on an investigation of the potential for a shared-L1 advantage on an academic English listening test featuring speakers with L2 accents. Two hundred and twelve second-language listeners (including 70 Mandarin Chinese L1 listeners and 60 Japanese L1 listeners) completed three versions of the University Test of English as a Second Language (UTESL) listening sub-test which featured an Australian English-accented speaker, a Japanese-accented speaker and a Mandarin Chinese-accented speaker. Differential item functioning (DIF) analyses were conducted on data from the tests which featured L2-accented speakers using two methods of DIF detection – the standardization procedure and the Mantel-Haenszel procedure – with candidates matched for ability on the test featuring the Australian English-accented speaker. Findings showed that Japanese L1 listeners were advantaged on a small number of items on the test featuring the Japanese-accented speaker, but these were balanced by items which favoured non-Japanese L1 listeners. By contrast, Mandarin Chinese L1 listeners were clearly advantaged across several items on the test featuring a Mandarin Chinese L1 speaker. The implications of these findings for claims of bias are discussed with reference to the role of speaker accent in the listening construct.
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