I'm going to start today's post with a short anecdote about my own language learning journey. If you've already read my post about when I first arrived to Spain, then you'll know that at first I was really shy and was afraid to make mistakes and sound like a "dumb American". I wasn't only afraid to make grammar mistakes, but I was terrified to sound so obviously American. I wanted to blend in, I wanted to completely hide my American accent and pass for a Spaniard. Why this obsession? I think it was that in my head, us Americans were stereotyped as unable to learn a language, or unable to hide their accent, and I didn't want to identify in any way with this stereotype. So I practiced and practiced and practiced until people were shocked when I told them that I wasn't Spanish. Success.
When I then moved to Italy, everyone asked me if I was Spanish when I tried to speak Italian. I was perfectly fine with that. Better to pass for a Spaniard than for an American. Now, when I go back to Spain, my friends make fun of me and tell me that I sound like a confused Italian when I speak Spanish. And you know what? That's okay! I no longer obsess over having the perfect accent, I've come to realize that it's more important to be able to communicate than to pass for a Spaniard or an Italian (being blonde and named Claire doesn't help that cause much either🤣).
So why am I telling you about my 20 year old self's identity crisis? Because I have so many students who try so so hard to cover up their [beautiful] Spanish or Italian accent, even if they speak very well and I have no trouble understanding everything they say. Stop! Your accent is beautiful, it's part of who you are, it's a wonderful conversation starter, and, just a little secret from us English natives...we love your accents. They're exotic, different and sometimes just downright cute. The important thing is that we are able to understand you. So, of course, practice your pronunciation as much as you can, in your lessons, in Conversation Club, and also by watching videos and listening to music. But please don't try to completely disguise where you come from by hiding your accent! It makes you unique, life would be boring if we all spoke the same, don't you think?
So there you have it, my opinion on accents. I love them. Maybe you completely disagree, and that's totally fine. That's the beauty of diversity. Let me know what you think in the comments!
blend in: to look like or be like those around you
make fun of me: to laugh at or joke (with or about) someone
downright: to an extreme degree, thoroughly, utterly.