And So You Have An Accent?
Does It Really Matter If You Have A Heavy Accent?
I have an accent. And so does Barack Obama. America has become that great country of immigrants from other countries who came with their cultures and colorful accents. Our accent is something we can't hide.
When I immigrated to New York over thirty years ago, I wanted to have an "American" accent. By that I mean the accent of the actors I saw on American TV growing up in Manila. Filipinos certainly spoke English with our own accent. We pronounce English words differently. It is not the kind, like the British accent, that is admired in America and makes people say, Oooooh. It is the kind of accent that immediately has people asking, "where are you from?"
I thought becoming "American" required changing my accent. When I went to college, I met more immigrants like me. All of them had accents too. When I started working, I also met a lot of people with accents, some were not even immigrants. Many years later, I would learn that it didn't really matter if I had an accent. It is like the color of our skin. It will always be there. Sometimes it brings the worst in people when they hear a heavy accent, because they don't recognize it, but there will also be times when our accent will be ignored and accepted for what it is.
Embrace your accent. It is part of who you are. Focus on learning how to put English words together so you can be understood when you speak. For now, focus on the message. Eventually you will learn how to say words correctly. Learning takes practice, and perhaps, a lot of watching American movies.
READ WITH UNDERSTANDING
1. Explain in your own words: do people have different accents in the country your are originally from? Is there such a thing as an "American" accent?
TV WATCHING TIP
1. Watch an American movie on TV.
2. Make sure the subtitles are on.
3. Keep the remote close to you.
4. While listening to the dialogue, repeat after the actors.
5. Try to imitate how they speak.
6. If they speak too fast, read the subtitles.