In our continuously globalizing world, cross-cultural and cross-linguistic communications are far from exceptional. A wealth of research has indicated that the processing of nonnative-accented speech can be challenging for native listeners, both at the level of phonology. However, few online studies have examined the underpinnings of accented speech recognition from the perspective of the nonnative listener, even though behavioral studies indicate that accented input may be easier to process for such individuals (i.e., the interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. The current EEG study first examined the phonological and syntactic analysis of nonnative-accented speech among nonnative listeners. As such, 30 English learners of Spanish listened to syntactically correct and incorrect Spanish sentences produced in native and nonnative-accented Spanish. The violation in the incorrect sentences was caused by errors that are typical (i.e., gender errors; *la color) or atypical (i.e., number errors; *los color) for English learners of Spanish. Results indicated that nonnative listeners elicit a phonological mismatch negativity (PMN) when attending to speech produced by a native Spanish speaker. Furthermore, the nonnative listeners showed a P600 for all grammatical violations, indicating that they repair all errors regardless of their typicality or the accent in which they are produced. Follow-up analyses compared our novel data to the data of native listeners from the methodologically identical precursor study. These analyses showed that native and nonnative listeners exhibit directionally opposite PMN effects; whereas natives exhibited a larger PMN for English-accented Spanish, nonnatives displayed a larger PMN in response to native Spanish utterances (a classic interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit). An additional difference was observed at the syntactic level: Whereas natives repaired only atypical number errors when they were English-accented, nonnative participants exhibited a P600 in response to all English-accented syntactic errors, regardless of their typicality (a syntactic interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit). Altogether, these results suggest that accented speech is not inherently difficult to process; in fact, nonnatives may benefit from the presence of a nonnative accent. Thus, our data provide some of the first electrophysiological evidence supporting the existence of the classic interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit and its novel syntactic counterpart.

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