Foreign Accent: Is It Part Of Your Identity?
Mar 5, 2009 English Language Learning (ELL) 2991 Views
If you have a foreign accent, you probably have a love/hate relationship with it. On one hand, you know that your accent is a part of who you are and points back to your country of origin, a place you likely have fond memories of. On the other hand, your accent can cause you to stand out, and some people have a difficult time understanding you when you speak if your accent is quite heavy. Before you work too hard to remove your accent, consider the fact that it could become a positive part of your identity with a little work.
What Causes Your Accent
As you learn English, you are learning not only vocabulary and grammar, but also the sounds of the language. This is why you spend so much time imitating sounds and speaking the language out loud. A lot of practice makes your pronunciation much more clear, but you can struggle with some sounds. This is because your native tongue does not have some of the sounds the English language has. This is no different than the struggles a native English speaker would have when trying to learn your language. As an adult, your mouth has been trained to form certain sounds and not others, and the sounds of your native tongue carry over into your English speech. This is why it is so difficult to completely remove an accent, because it is literally a part of the person that you are.
Benefits of Having an Accent
Your accent is part of who you are. Many people across the world find foreign accents quite beautiful. Some actors and actresses are chosen for major film roles just for their accent or ability to portray an accent. Accents sound romantic and exotic to the listener in many situations.
In some ways, having an accent can make you stand out in a beneficial way. People notice you when you speak because of the beautiful way your accent sounds. This can sometimes cause you to get noticed.
Downsides to Having an Accent
Having a foreign accent is something that is a part of who you are, but there are potential downsides to it as well. If your accent is thick, it may be difficult for other people to understand you when you speak English. This can lead to other problems.
For example, if you are being considered for a job where your verbal communication skills will come into play, you may be overlooked in favor of someone who can speak clearer English. You may be overlooked simply because the potential employer has difficulty understanding you, even if your English-speaking ability will not come into play in the job. While this is discrimination in a way, there is little you can do about it, because it is difficult to prove.
How to Approach an Accent
Your accent makes you unique, but if it is causing trouble for you, you may want to do something about it. The good news is that you do not have to get rid of your accent altogether if you wish to improve your speaking ability. Remember, your accent is not a bad thing. It is a part of your identity.
What you can do to improve your ability to communicate is work on the strength of your accent. You can actually enroll in courses that will help you form the sounds that you are struggling with when speaking English. This will help you keep your accent while making your English a bit easier for others to understand. In this way, you can avoid any of the negatives that come with having a foreign accent, while using the accent to create your own unique identity.