Coping with diverse accented English: Comprehension strategies deployed by East Asian international students at an Australian university
Keywords:Comprehension barriers, accent unfamiliarity, East Asian students, coping strategies
This study investigates strategies employed by East Asian international students to cope with comprehension barriers caused by different types of English accents. While these students face a range of comprehension barriers caused by unfamiliar accented English (from both native speakers and speakers of other languages), little is known about how these students overcome the challenges during their study journey. Using a qualitative survey approach, this study addresses the research question: What coping strategies are employed by East Asian international students to mitigate the comprehension barriers caused by different types of accents? A thematic analysis of written responses from 306 East Asian students at an Australian university revealed that there were two main strategies: (a) verbal strategies, and (b) non-verbal strategies. The first theme emphasises an immediate attempt to repair communication breakdowns via, for example, meaning negotiation. The second theme focuses on self-discipline or actions to enhance overall comprehension skills, such as using authentic materials. Practical implications for improvement of these students’ experiences include initiatives to raise awareness of intercultural communication challenges and increased learning support to enhance these students’ intercultural engagement.
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