When speaking English is not enough: the consequences of language-based stigma for nonnative speakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Megan Birney
  • Anna Rabinovich
  • Thomas A. Morton
  • Hannah Heath
  • Sam Ashcroft

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Chester
  • University of Exeter


We explored the effects of language-based stigma on the relationship between native and nonnative speakers. In two studies, we found that stigmatized nonnative speakers experienced more negative interpersonal interactions, higher levels of intergroup threat, and reduced performance on an English test compared with nonnative speakers who did not experience stigma. These effects were mediated by anxiety and moderated by prevention-related goals. Furthermore, native speakers perceived stigmatized (vs. not-stigmatized) speakers’ accents as stronger and their commitment to living in the host country as weaker. Our findings suggest that experiencing language-based stigma can (a) incite a stereotype threat response from nonnative speakers, and (b) damage their relationship with native speakers on an interpersonal and intergroup level.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-86
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • accent perception, stigma, regulatory focus, stereotype threat, communication