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Learning a new language: Your accent is part of your identity.

Photo taken from Pexels, by Manfred Hofferer

Being uncomfortable with your accent can hold you back and slow your learning process of : speaking a foreign language. That occurs. Guess what? Speaking. I interviewed a linguist to understand more about the topic of accents and language learning.

Master in linguistic study, and graduated in Language, Mariama has an Instagram page with 15k followers, although her public is Portuguese and Spanish speakers. She has an important insight that I thought was a good idea to share with English speakers: Your accent is your identity and you should be proud of it.

Your accent, you might just get comfortable with it.

I had a conversation with Mariama and learned a lot. I heard from her that there is still a situation where a few professionals still hold on to the idea of pushing students into learning a “clean” accent. While that’s not something wrong, having the presumption that you must hide your accent is not at all ideal.

Interview

I recorded our conversation into my podcast so you can also get a little bit of the experience:

Mariama works nowadays with language, giving classes in Ireland, you can find Mariama and her Instagram page on Instagram by the name “Espanolconqualidad”, although you might not understand her videos if you aren’t a Spanish or Portuguese speaker, feel free to ask questions if you are struggling to learn a new idiom.

Accent biases

Accent biases are common in our society, while this article focuses on accent biases focused on foreign accents, it also occurs regionally inside most countries, where people tend to judge either a regional accent as being uneducated or a posh accent as being rude.

In an article by BBC, Ze Wang showed that US participants trusted British accents more than Indian accents. “People often have a negative bias toward non-standard accents, particularly those with disadvantaged and low-prestige minority groups,” she says. For instance, she found that those with Mexican or Greek accents were perceived as less intelligent or professional than those who speak standard US English.  

What did I learn?

Although it might be important to maintain their accent, others see an accent as merely a changeable part of oneself. It’s up to you to find your reasons or how much your accent is related to your personal identity. Also, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fit in a new environment, and language as we talked about in the podcast is something organic.

Whether to change or not is a deeply personal choice. But one thing I left this interview with was that: being ashamed/insecure of your accent won’t help you with anything.

What do you think of it? Have you ever felt uncomfortable with your accent? Let me know in the commentaries.

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