With English being the global Lingua Franca, as a non-native speaker, you may at one point or another wonder whether you should be worried about your accent, especially if you live or work in an English environment.
Before I answer this question, I’d like to clarify an important point – There’s nothing wrong with having an accent.
Everyone has an “accent,” native speakers included! There are countless native English accents. Your accent tells people where you’re from and, in some instances, your socioeconomic status.
In fact, having a non-native English accent means that you’re multilingual, which is something to be celebrated!
If you ever wonder why your accent remains despite achieving a high level of proficiency in English, this blog is for you.
So, should you be worried about your accent?
There are many factors to consider when answering this question. The short answer is – No, you shouldn’t worry if others clearly understand your messages.
Have you ever had conversations where you know for a fact that your word choice and sentence structure are correct, but the listeners still look confused?
Are you often asked to repeat yourself, especially on the phone?
Are you at times asked to clarify your point at meetings or presentations?
Do you lack confidence speaking in English?
Do you feel that your personal or professional opportunities are limited because of your accent? (This question may touch some nerves, but accent bias or linguistic discrimination is very real in everyday life and professional settings.)
If the answer is “yes” to any of these above questions, then yes, you may have reasons to worry. However, the reason you should worry is not that you have an accent but that you’re having communication breakdowns or limitations in life.
If your grammar errors or lack of vocabulary are preventing you from expressing yourself clearly, you’d work on these skills. Same with your accent. No one can afford to be complacent about a lack of communication clarity.
In the end, whether you choose to work your accent is a personal choice. I’ve met people who have very hard-to-understand accents, but they don’t feel it’s a problem and choose not to address it. It is their life and their choice to make; no judgements. On the other end of the extreme, I’ve met many others who have near-native accents but choose to work on improving it, which is also entire their choice.
Accent training is an elective service; you do what you need to do for your own self-improvement. No one can tell you whether you should or should not be taking on this endeavour.
In accent training, our focus is on CLARITY and NATURALNESS of speech, not on accent per se. The accent modification is a byproduct of working on becoming a better communicator.
Hi! I’m Vivienne, a speech-language pathologist and an accent modification specialist with over 20 years of experience. I believe in the power of speaking confidently. Curious about whether accent training is for you? Contact me today for a complimentary consultation.