The considerable influx of non-native English speakers (NNESs) into the English-speaking communities has changed dramatically the development of English language, one of which is the status of native English speaking norms. Today, English is not used for the competence of how close one approximates to native English speakers (NESs), but is more frequently adopted as a lingua franca faciliating a variety of pragmatic undertakings. This research, under the framework of English as a lingua franca (ELF), investigates how different English accents are perceived and appropriated as identity markers by university students in mainland China and to what extent their perceptions are under the influence of the emergent ELF environment. Drawing on a comparatively large-scale online questionnaire data, this article reports ambivalence in participants’ attitudes toward different English accents and a dilemma in projecting their L1 identity. It also suggests a replacement of the current teaching paradigm to better fit into the changing configuration of English language around the world.
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