Okim Kang

My research focus lies in the areas of L2 speech and intelligibility, speech perception and production, speech technology and automated speech recognition (ASR),  oral assessment and testing,  language attitudes, World Englishes, and L2 phonology in second language acquisition. My overall research goal is to investigate the nature of accented speech of non-native speakers (NNSs) of English, which includes several sub-areas of research: (a) how speech technology can enhance L2 speech research, (b) how accent is perceived by listeners, (c) how accented speech is characterized linguistically, (d) how accented speech is assessed through automatic systems, (e) how speakers with accents can better communicate with others, and (f) what constitutes intelligible speech and how we can promote intelligible speech in the global contexts.


Email: Okim.Kang@nau.edu

I have been currently working on various research projects relevant to the topics listed above. Some examples of my currently funded and collaborative research projects include: (1) Second Language Speech Production: Formulation of Objective Speech Intelligibility Measures and Learner-Specific Feedback (funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), through RETTL EAGER Funding Program, $300,000, 2021-2023); (2) Young Learners’ Score Gains in the TOEFL Primary Tests and their English Language Progressions in Various Contexts (funded by the TOEFL Young Research Grant Program, $49,482, 2023-2024); and (3) Equality, diversity, and inclusion: Different varieties of accents in Aptis English listening tests ( funded by the British Council, $28,385, 2023-2024).

I have also recently completed many other funded projects such as (4) Fairness of using different accents in Duolingo listening tasks (funded by the Duolingo Competitive Research Grants program, $94,348, 2021-2022); (5) Test takers’ attitudes and perceptions towards IELTS and the use of mobile-assisted technologies in tests (funded by the IELTS Joint Funded Research Program, $29,844, 2021-2022); (6) Relationship among young learner background, language growth, and score gain on MET Go! over time. (funded by the Barbara Dobson Latin America Research Grant, Michigan English Language Assessment, 2021-2022); (7) Investigation of Relationship among Learner Background, Linguistic Progression, and Score Gain on IELTS (funded by the IELTS Joint Funded Research Program, $50,972, 2019-2020); (8) Intelligibility of different varieties of English in the TOEFL iBT listening test (funded by the ETS TOEFL COE research grant, $108,624, 2014-2018); (9) Development of prosodic features in automated speech system (funded by NAU Technology Research Investment Fund, $200,000, 2014-2018); and (10) Linguistic analysis of speaking performance and automated extraction (funded by British Council Research Grants, $15,040, 2017-2019).  Based on my expertise in L2 phonology and language assessment, I worked with my post-doctoral scholar (Dr. David Johnson), and developed computer systems that automatically process prosodic features and obtained a patent (Serial No. 9,947,322) entitled “Systems and Methods for Automated Evaluation of Human Speech”.



  • Ph.D (2008): University of Georgia, GA
  • MA (2003): University of Auckland, New Zealand

My Research in Public News

NPR Code Switch Podcast: Reverse Linguistics Steroptyping: Talk American : NPR

NAU News: http://news.nau.edu/okim-kang-accent-research/#.W7lCz5NKhp8

500 Women Scientist: https://500womenscientists.org/updates/2018/9/18/okim-kang


NAU Reviews (2022): Machine learning: https://news.nau.edu/kang-nsf-research/

NAU Reviews (2022): Language assessment fairness: https://news.nau.edu/kang-english-accents/

TESOL Interview (2022) Youtube: As we speak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGzaL6gfV20

Duolingo English Test Assessment Research (2022): Webinar: Understanding Language for Automated Assessment of Speaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYqIaC_XYrs

4 thoughts on “Okim Kang

  1. Shahid nadeem

    Sir, am an English lecturer from Pakistan. Am working on my mphil thesis namely backwash effect of examination on teaching and learning of English at graduation level. I’ve gone through your profile. Kindly help me and provide me with related reading material plz


  2. Md. Shariful Islam Sharker

    Dear Professor,
    I have gone through your profile and research activities and publication. Your works are stunning which really attract me to go on communication further. Frankly speaking, I have 1-2 research proposals to go for a PhD. Should I email the proposal that connects your area of interest?

    Yes. This is Md. Shariful Islam Sharker from Bangladesh working as an Asst. Professor of English in a college. If you reply me, I’ll send my CV and the papers needed for further consideration.

    Thanks in advance.



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