Do you have a recognisable accent? However you feel about your accent is your own business.
You might consider your accent as part of your identity and have absolutely no interest in ‘working’ on pronunciation.
Or perhaps you want to ‘iron out’ certain features so that you communicate with no comment on your accent.
Either way, and anything in between, is valid. Your accent is your own business, to leave or modify as you prefer.
Everyone has an accent
A popular internet meme says (I paraphrase):
Speaking without an accent is like typing without a font.
I wholly agree. There is no such thing as speaking without an accent. Everyone who speaks has one.
Some accents are, rightly or wrongly, considered ‘standard’ and some more unusual or noticeable.
If your accent is more on the noticeable side, there is a range of feelings you may have about it.
You don’t need me to tell you this, but I’ll say it anyway: your personal feelings about how you speak are always entirely valid and your own business.
It’s common and normal to:
- consider your accent integral to your identity and never want to speak any other way!
- be curious about exploring other accents or pronunciation patterns
- enjoy the attention when people comment on your accent
- feel annoyed when people comment on your accent
- like when people call your accent cute or charming
- get irritated when people call your accent cute or charming
- want to clarify persistent pronunciation mysteries like seat vs sit, if English is an additional language for you
- want to do justice to your target language by exploring its pronunciation intricacies, just like you did with grammar in the early days
- have a personal interest in phonetics and sounds
- feel a mix of all of these depending on your mood or the day!
My accent journey
I recognise myself in many of the above – mostly the last one! English is my first language and I speak French as a second language. I have taken French pronunciation sessions and worked quite hard on those sounds. I often felt silly and had moments of failure and frustration, but ultimately have made progress and enjoyed the journey.
This enables me to empathise with my own clients’ English pronunciation journeys.
I wanted to do the French language justice by attempting to get its pronunciation ‘right’. The clear notion of a standard French pronunciation was actually helpful in this. Well-intentioned people insisted that my English-influenced pronunciations were ‘charming’, therefore they should stay unchanged.
To me, this almost felt a little like gatekeeping and assigning me a box. I wanted choices and was curious, so I worked on it. I will never sound like a native French speaker, but simple changes like using more accurate vowels really helped me have smoother interactions during my time in France, ultimately increasing my confidence with the language.
The gift of choice
I want to offer my clients this same choice and confidence in English. Their journey is often compounded by the fact that English lacks a clear concept of ‘standard’ pronunciation, which can be confusing. Variety is to be celebrated, but a little guidance is essential.
Your accent and pronunciation habits are always your business. It’s nobody else’s place to tell you what to do with them!
To kick-start your journey towards super clear English pronunciation, book your free, 20-minute Clarity Call today.