How to speak English: Tracking the development of accent attitudes
Those who decide to take on the task of learning how to speak English and/or reduce their native accent are usually hesitant to do so for a number of reason, including fear of the unknown in another language and the time and effort required to make notable progress. Chief among these concerns is an uncertainty of how efforts to change their speech will be perceived by others. Will their family accuse them of abandoning their heritage by trying to adopt a neutral sounding accent? Furthermore, will coworkers mock them if they mispronounce a word during a presentation or misinterpret the meaning of a word? These concerns remain valid even as the world gradually becomes more accepting of people working to better themselves by going against established social and linguistic stereotypes. The question of when children are most susceptible to believing language related stereotypes remains unclear, but there is now evidence to suggest that learned attitudes toward accents in childhood grow stronger with age.
How to speak English: North versus south
University of Chicago psychologists Katherine Kinzler and Jasmine DeJesus tested groups of children from Illinois and Tennessee, studying each group’s reaction to hearing someone speak in their native accent and dialect and vice versa. It was found that children from Illinois had a positive response toward neutral sounding dialects and described these individuals as people they would like to be friends with, which led the team to conclude children naturally gravitate toward those people whose native dialect is similar to their own. It is not simply a matter of whether the person in question has an “American” or “foreign” accent. Similarly, as one who is attempting to learn how to speak English, you probably feel more comfortable interacting with someone who has an accent as opposed to a native speaker, given that you are both likely facing similar challenges in learning the language.
Those children from Tennessee did not show as drastic a preference for speakers of their own dialect. This could possibly be because southerners are regularly exposed to non native “standard” English dialects through television and other outlets and thus do not focus as much on accents compared to children from northern states. Nevertheless, there remains the overall stereotype that people from the north sound more intelligent simply due to their accent, whereas people from the south are labeled “dumb” or “nice.” This general opinion was shared both by children from Illinois and Tennessee, one that became stronger as they reached the 9-10 year old age range.
How to Speak English: Stay Connected
This is just one of our many blog articles that help educate and help you learn how to speak English If you’re interested in learning more about ways to reduce your foreign accent, you can learn how to speak English after starting with a free screening to determine the severity of your foreign accent. Within 48 hours, you will receive results regarding your foreign accent on a severity scale of 1 (very heavy) to 7 (very mild) accent. If you’re looking to learn how to speak English, we have office and online starter program options! Within 12 sessions, all clients have demonstrated accent reduction of 50% or more.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]