by Berta Melder
Do you speak foreign languages with an accent? Perhaps, you do. Even if English is your native language, you still have a certain accent. Living in Britain, you may speak with a northern, Welsh, Scottish, and many other accents. Living in the US, your English may be southern, western, and so on. English comes in all forms: Carribean, Bahamian, Australian, Jamaican, Canadian, etc. However, when English is your second language, it means that you're used to phonetic patterns of another language, and your English may sound completely different from how Americans or the British speak. Is it a problem?
Your accent is like the color of your skin — it is one of many characteristics used by the society to identify foreigners. However, while most people understand that it's wrong to judge people by their visual appearance, foreign accents remain an unrecognized form of prejudice. There are many employers who don't give jobs to non-native speakers, claiming that their accent may cause problems with communication in the workplace.
The main reason for such a discrimination is that people are willing to hear phrases that are easier to understand. This principle works almost everywhere. One of the most vivid examples is the stock market. Stocks of companies with simple and understandable names usually cost more than those of companies which names are hard to pronounce.
Many people try to get rid of their accent, replacing familiar patterns with native pronunciation, but it turns out to be not an easy task. Some patterns of the native language remain untouched and appear out of nowhere when we least expect it. Of course, we need to improve our language if we want others to better understand us, however, your accent isn't something you should be embarrassed by. Moreover, you can be proud of it, because a slight accent won't cause you any problems, being just a part of your heritage.
1. Your accent means that you know more than one language. For example, the majority of Americans are not really interested in other languages. Your accent can make you stand out, being a proof of your good education.
2. Even though some people have problems with finding a job because of their accent, it may also be your advantage as well. There are many spheres where bilingual experts are more valued.
3. Your accent tells a story. People will always be asking you about your accent and it's a great opportunity to tell an interesting story about how your family migrated to another country. It's a part of you, like a tattoo that reminds you of something important that happened in the past.
4. It's a proof of your hard work. Then others hear you speak easily and clearly with an accent, they understand that you've put a lot of effort into learning a new language. It's certainly something that needs to be respected.
5. You can communicate with people who speak both languages. Thus, you can make more friends and get more useful contacts.
6. It's easier to start a conversation. Even if you're tired of people asking you where you're from, it's still a good way to break the silence and start a new conversation. Don't forget to tell an interesting story about your family and how you managed to learn a new language.
7. Your enemies may underestimate you. Your accent is a great distraction if you're having a difficult conversation. Your sharp remark will sound even more impressive.
8. You can hide behind your accent. Sometimes, you can sound more persuasive in different situations by just changing your accent (you'll sound like an expert when talking about tea with a British accent).
9. Finally, it will make people remember you! If you're afraid of your accent, it's not a reason to stop learning new languages. All languages change, especially those that are popular worldwide. There's no single correct way to speak, so don't be afraid. Embrace your accent, and be proud of who you are!
Berta Melder is a brand manager and co-founder of the Masterra. She cooperates with different education courses covering a broad range of digital topics as a guest lecturer. Enjoys creative writing and blogging. Her Twitter @BertaMelder.
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