This thesis looked at the feasibility of training EFL students to speak English \\·ith a Standard American English accent, using the same techrnques that actors employ to acquire an accent for a given role. Four Liberian refugees, currently residing in Cairo, were chosen to participate in a 21-hour pronunciation course, designed and taught by a theatre teacher \\·ho currently instrncts his students in theatrical training, including accent modification, at the American University in Cairo. Digital studio recordings of the subjects· recitation of an identical stage monologue \\·ere made at pre. mid and post training intervals. In order to assess the subjects· proximity to Standard natiYe American speech, parallel sections from recordings of the same passage, read by five male native speakers of Standard American English. were made. These native speaker files were analyzed, using Speech Tools. and model formants were produced, using averaged native speaker data. From these recordings, the pronunciation of five phonemes, in three different parts of the passage, were extracted for analysis. Analyses of variance (ANOV A) were carried out to determine the significant impact of the training on the formant, the phoneme, and the placement of the phoneme. Additionally, a stem and leaf analysis was conducted to assess overall performance of the subjects in the pre, mid and post recordings, in relation to their proximity to native Standard American speech.

Overall results indicated that two of the four participants demonstrated a ten percent improvement in their post-training pronunciation performance. Although there were no results which indicated that the theatrical training approach coul4' not be used to successfully train EFL students in Standard English pronunciation proficiency, none of the subjects in the study were found to produce speech identical to that of

native Standard American English. The study's results may have been hampered by the impact of connected speech, as phonemes which were sounded before and after the phoneme extracted for analysis colored the pronunciation of the target utterance, thus making the extracted phoneme difficult to assess in isolation. Factors which may hm·e hampered the success of the training include the brevity of the course, at-home assignments which were not completed by the subjects and an absence of extrinsic motivators such as monetary reward, which could encourage good pronunciation performance.

Suggestions for future studies are included in chapter five. The results of a questionnaire indicated that the subjects felt that they could pass on the training in accent modification which they had acquired in the program.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

R. Hozayin

Committee Member 1

R. Hozayin

Committee Member 2

F. Bradley

Committee Member 3

Y. El-Ezabi

Document Type



81 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

English language

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

English language


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Call Number

Thesis 2002/75