November 2013


Everyone has an accent

Regardless of which language, and what area or country, people reveal in their speech where they spent most of their formative years. Think about people you know from another area of the country. Does someone originally from Boston really have the same ”accent” as someone raised in the deep South? I don’t think so! And not only pronunciation differs from region to region, vocabulary can change as well. ”Soda,” “pop,” and even “tonic” can be used to talk about carbonated soft drinks. New Yorkers drink “caw-fee” and in other areas, the usual morning beverage is “cah-fee.” It’s all English…American English. And American English is different from British English, Australian English, Canadian English, or Indian English. They are all English, with many key differences in vocabulary and pronunciation which can complicate some English-English communications.

For these and more cultural reasons, effective adult language learning is best delivered by a native speaker and resident of a particular country, state, or region. Imagine yourself a worker who learned English in New Delhi and arrives on our shores completely unable to understand or be understood. The principal reason for this disappointing discovery is often that she was taught by a speaker of Indian English and not by a speaker of American English.

Students model their instructors. Language Directions therefore makes every effort to match the regional accent of the instructor with the dominant accent of the training location.

What can you do to help yourself improve or lose an accent? A simple way is to make it a point to watch television network news every day, at least once. Why? Because broadcasters are free of detectable regionalisms or local accents. It would be difficult to tell if the NBC commentator is from Los Angeles or Brooklyn; India or China. They all speak a dialect-free English and we often refer to them as ”the people from nowhere.” And, they speak with perfect grammar and syntax. Watching them, listening to the rhythm of their speech, and making note of their syllable stress are all methods you can use to help yourself to achieve your language goals.

The same principal applies to increasing your fluency and accent in a foreign language.

Spanish language programming is widespread and available in most areas of the country. Broadcast journalists throughout the world demonstrate an excellent and educated command of their native tongue. Modeling their speech is an inexpensive way to supplement your language learning and move you closer to fluency and comfort.