As a consequence of English developing into a global language, new varieties of English have emerged and the language has assumed the role of a common medium of communication among speakers of different ethnolinguistic backgrounds. When Hong Kong was transforming from a British colony into “Asia’s World City” after its sovereignty was returned to China, the notions of “World Englishes” (WE) and “English as a Lingua Franca” (ELF) were also introduced to teacher-trainees taking English as their major subject in a local university in Hong Kong. Despite this, preference for the native English models seemed to prevail. This article examines the extent to which ELF was a rhetoric rather than a reality as perceived by this group of students. Through the Verbal-guise Technique and group interviews, the article examined the attitudes of 105 English teacher-trainees in Hong Kong towards four native and three Asian speech samples of English (including their own). The results showed that although the respondents displayed good confidence in their own accent and positive attitudes towards all speakers, their strong preference for the American and British models remained deep-rooted, suggesting that a linguistic hierarchy exists even in the WE paradigm. Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited.