I told one of my one-to-one students recently that she has a Turkish accent and she was really embarrassed. I had to reassure her that her pronunciation is good and that I can understand everything she says!
Also, I see so many people on my Facebook page saying things like “I want to speak like a native speaker!” or “I want to have a British accent!” But why?! What’s wrong with having a non-native accent?
Do you worry about your accent when speaking English? Perhaps it's time to stop worrying and celebrate the unique beauty of your own accent! Here are some things to think about.
1. Having an accent does not mean that other people can’t understand you. Sure, there might be one or two sounds that you have difficulty with. Work on these sounds but don’t think you have to lose your accent completely in order to be understood, because that’s not true.
2. Your accent is a part of who you are! Why would you want to change that? I love accents and find them beautiful and fascinating! I have friends from France, Japan and Uganda who have lived in the UK for years. They speak perfect English with their own accent and I love hearing it!
3. Think about all the actors, singers and YouTubers who have non-native accents and have achieved success, like Sofia Vergara, Enrique Iglesias, Jackie Chan and many more. English has become such an international language that it’s becoming more and more common to hear non-native accents on TV, on the radio and online.
4. “Accent” does not equal “fluency”. Remember, having an accent does not reflect your level of English proficiency. Fluency is about expressing yourself clearly and easily. It’s about being understood, regardless of the accent.
5. Native speakers don’t all speak with one accent anyway. In the UK, people from London, Manchester and Edinburgh have different accents. Then there are all the other countries where English is spoken: America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and many more, each with its own range of accents.
6. For most people, learning a new accent is an unrealistic goal. It is possible to change your accent, with the right training, but it’s extremely difficult. I’m English and I can’t even do a Scottish or American accent, never mind learning an accent in another language! There are even professional actors who do it badly. There are far more important things to focus on, like building your grammar or fluency.
7. Think about why you are learning English and who you are most likely to speak to in the future. There’s a good chance that you will want to speak English to other non-native speakers, maybe at work or when you’re travelling. You might never speak to a British or American at all! So does it really make sense trying to perfect a British accent?
So celebrate your accent and the wonderful diversity of the global English-speaking community!
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