The Bold and the Beautiful: How Aspects of Personality Affect Foreign Language Pronunciation
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In the main study, a group of Polish learners of English completed a number of mimicry tasks in three languages: Italian, Dutch and Chinese, as well as a narration task in English. Mimicry performance and English pronunciation were then assessed by native speakers and compared. Participants also completed a questionnaire concerning their feelings about the languages they were to mimic and a second questionnaire designed to detect affective factors such as language learning anxiety, as well as attitudes towards the pronunciation of Polish and English. The pilot study suggested that the perceived attractiveness of the foreign language to be mimicked did not affect the performance of most participants, and that mimicry skill was fairly constant across languages. However, those who were particularly concerned about their personal appearance showed greater fluctuation in their ability to mimic and their performance appeared to be influenced by their attitude towards the language. This is referred to by the author as the Cecily effect. That study also confirmed the results of my previous experimental work showing that mimicry skill is correlated to some degree with English language pronunciation and that both pronunciation and mimicry are negatively affected by high levels of anxiety. The main study sets out to investigate whether or not these conclusions hold true for a larger sample population and also seeks to determine the effect of confidence and willingness to take risks on scores for both foreign language pronunciation and mimicry exercises.