Imagine a world in which everyone speaks the same language – a world in which every person has the same accent, the same tone and the same vocabulary. Sounds… incredibly boring, right?

Getting rid of an accent is a common goal for language learners around the world. But as a language teacher and a traveler, I’ve come to love and value accents.

Accents are a part of us, they help tell our story. And I hope that you never fully lose yours.

My story

Although I live in South America now, I grew up in the northeast of the United States. Living close to the border with Quebec, Canada, half of our radio channels featured native French speakers.

Many of the residents of my hometown originally came from other countries, and it was very normal to head to the supermarket and hear more than one accent, or even more than one language, while buying my groceries.

In fact, I heard so many different accents that I didn’t think about it very much. Those people, to me, weren’t foreign-language-speakers. They were just people.

When my family hosted an Italian girl in our home for a summer, I was fascinated with her accent. I thought she had the most beautiful, melodic way of speaking that I had ever heard – and I spent an entire summer trying to imitate her and talk like she did. 

When I first moved to South America, I didn’t speak very much Spanish. Not only was the vocab and grammar difficult for me, but my tongue and my mouth had a hard time making the sounds that everyone around me made with ease.

I became acutely embarrassed by my accent.

I felt like I had a big arrow over my head saying “North American girl” every time I opened my mouth to speak. 

I spent hours practicing the hard-to-say words and sounds that helped others identify me as a foreigner. I avoided speaking out loud in public as much as possible. I didn’t want people to hear my “bad” Spanish. And as a result, I didn’t learn Spanish very fast. 

One day a friend from Chile sat me down. He asked me what I thought about his accent when he spoke in English. “Do I sound silly?” He asked me. “Are you embarrassed for me? Do you have a hard time understanding me?” 

I was shocked that he would even think that. “Of course not!” I told him. “I love your accent! It’s musical, and it tells a story about where you’re from. In fact, I usually don’t even think about your accent. I think about how amazing it is that you speak two languages so well, when learning a second language is so hard for me.”

He simply smiled at me, “Well, that’s how I feel about your accent. So stop worrying about it and accept it as part of you.” 

I never apologise for my accent anymore.

Sometimes I apologise for using the wrong word, or for not explaining myself well. Of course, I want people to understand me. But I’ve grown very proud of my accent.

I worked incredibly hard to be able to speak two languages. I’ll never sound exactly like a native Chilean – but I’m not a native Chilean! I’m a North American who moved to a foreign country and spent years of hard work trying to learn another language.

My accent tells my story. And I’m proud of the story it tells. 

What’s your ‘why’?

If one of your main goals in English is to get rid of your accent, I challenge you to think for a moment about why you want to change it. 

If you want to change your accent because people have a hard time understanding you in English, that’s a fair point.

We all want to be understood, and if your accent is keeping you from expressing yourself clearly, then that’s something to work on. 

But if you want to change your accent for other reasons, maybe you should reconsider those reasons. Think about how you feel when you meet someone speaking your native language with an accent.

We are often our own worst-critics! But worrying about something that most people probably don’t even care about is a waste of time. 

Accents do occasionally promote stereotypes or negative attitudes. But if somebody treats you badly because of an accent, then they’re probably not the type of person you want to be around anyway. And they’ve definitely never gone through the struggles and challenges of learning a second language, so you already have something amazing that they don’t have!

Most languages have regional dialects and accents as well. Put 10 native English-speakers from different parts of the world in a room together, and I guarantee they won’t sound the same.

Think about it this way; everyone has an accent, even in their native language! I love meeting different Spanish-speakers and trying to figure out which country they’re from by their accent. I think it’s fascinating how one language can change so much across different geographical locations.

Accents tell our story

Our accents tell a story about where we are from, what part of the world we’ve lived in, and the different cultures that create our history. 

One of my favorite parts of The Ladies’ Project (although, to be honest, I have many favorite parts), are all of the different accents that I hear on a daily basis.

Not only is it beautiful to hear so many different pronunciations and dialects sharing together in one place, but it’s also extremely helpful for improving listening skills!

Did you know that only 25% of the world’s population of English-speakers are native? That means that 3 out of 4 people that you speak in English with will have a non-native accent!

Coming in contact with as many different accents as possible is a great way to train your ear, hone your listening skills, and improve your communication in general! 

Accents are beautiful. They are real. They tell a story. They are a part of our identity. And they represent something incredible – the fact that you speak more than one language!

Accents shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, but they should be celebrated. Be proud of your accent, it’s part of you. 

What’s your opinion? Does your accent bother you? Are there some accents you’ve heard that you appreciate?

* Photo by Maria Tyutina from Pexels

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What do you think?

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  1. Alda Eliane Costa Caiado

    You are absolutely right about this topic. Although we try to speak as natives, we will always be identified as foreigners by expressing our own personality when we speak.
    I had an american teacher who told me that my Brazilian accent was beautiful and that she loved talking to different people from different places because of the accents.

  2. Ainshah Noor

    Hi, there! I completely agree with you. I like to stay with my accent because it’s quite understandable though I’m always trying to figure out where I need to improve that do not bother anyone to understand because sometimes different accents might be difficult to understand but it’s not an awkward thing.❣

  3. Ahlam

    Yes my accents in english sucks and i feel so ashamed of that because most of my friends speak english very well so i wanna improve my communication skills in that amzing language

  4. Barbara Mancia

    Hey ladies! I am working hard to improve my pronunciation, reading out of loud to exercise my muscles and my tongue.
    I am Italian and 4 years agoo I moved to Miami, I feel confident enough with my accent however I am striving to get better because of my work. I would like to be professional and let others, colleagues, customers and business partners, understand me.
    I agree with the fact that it is important to keep our accent, I have experienced that native people really like to listening to me and they love my accent. So don’t be shy, just talk!

  5. Clarissa

    Thank you for this post. This is such an important topic, as it can be a headache for so many people learning a new language. Personally, I know that I get a little frustrated every time that someone asks me about my accent. But you’re definitely right: it does tell our history, so there’s no reason to be ashamed!

  6. Jesus

    I’ve been an ESOL teacher for 41 years and, of course, I have an accent! But I ve always thought when native speakers hear me, they realize I speak at least another language. And in fact I speak Spanish – my native language – French and Italian quite fluently!

  7. Aga

    What I value for my interlocutor is whether I understand and like him more than his accent 🙂 It seems to me, that some nations speak English in a characteristic way.
    My accent doesn’t block me. I have a memory for a melodic line and the speech has its own melody 🙂 If I spend a long time with someone, I acquire his manner of pronunciation.

  8. Heavenly

    Am a Nigerian and I have always felt uncomfortable with the way I sound but reading this article made me realize that I love the way I sound. My accent is who I am and I love the fact that I am a Nigerian. I have a Nigerian accent and I rock it!!!

  9. Maria Moutsidou

    This is sooo right! Thanks a lot! As a non native English speaker I realized that being here for less than a week, I exercise my ears with so many different pronunciations. I already feel that I can speak more.. The last 1,5 year I have made a huge improvement in my English with so many effort. I m dedicated to this point. I have to say that I’m very proud of myself.

  10. Jaclyn

    I really enjoy in learning English and obsessed with it! I need to build up my confidence to speak more english as I tend to afraid of making mistakes when I am speaking Engish😢Hopefully to improve my speaking skills and overcome all the challenges and fear in this project!

  11. marjorie

    you have a point! actually, people recognize which country they are from because of their accent. but for me, it was a privilege
    especially here in our country( Philippines) the more you speak English well the more of chances you hired for the position(work)
    my fellow Filipino studying speaks in English with an accent especially when we applying for a call center company.

  12. Alan

    Too right! I remember watching a Democratic debate in which most of the candidates spoke a bit of Spanish. After, I read some critiques (by Spanish teachers) which mostly focused on their accents, which the critics considered “atrocious”. Having that kind of an attitude is akin to believing that people should never try to acquire a second language.

  13. Rajmonda

    Hello everyone!
    I’m very glad to be part of The Ladies’s Project. As a matter of fact, I’m here for my ability to improve my speaking skills, in order to become a good English speaker.
    Thank you 😊

  14. Erika

    Hi! Although i’m mexican i’ve never worried about my accent. I’ve always spoken to people and I’m happy they understand me . No worries about different accents either

  15. Mehwish

    Nice blog I always wanted an accent like a native English speaker but this has broadened my horizons to the fullest I have just imagined that if someone meets me trying to copy my accent of my native language so how I feel ? it’s like teasing me…. great teachers guiding their students to the right path….

  16. Chisato

    I’m so impressed by this message that the accent is beautiful. It’s absolutely game changer for me. I can’t speak English very much because I always terribly nervous when I talk to someone in English. To be able to speak English fluently has been my goal for a long time. I now feel like I can do it with TLP. I hope I can join your community!

  17. Humberto Brambila Díaz

    This beautiful post fill me up with confidence and confidence is all you need for being fluent it whatever language you want to speak.
    What matters most, is people be able to create bridges to others to express ideas and feelings. The more allegorical and diverse the bridge is, the more fun and relevant be walking through it.