Accent Reduction: Cultural Identity Fear
What is it that triggers the fear of accent modification? This question came to me as I was talking with a friend about some of my own fears. Although I was born in the same country as I live, I have fears myself. I know what it’s like to think if I change an aspect of myself, that I’m changing it because it’s “wrong”. Woa! that word, itself, “wrong” stabs a little. So does the thought fo thinking I need to change a habit-a way of BEING-a way I’ve been for a LONG time!
The good news is that to change your accent, you don’t need to lose part of yourself. You can start EXPERIENCING your accent DIFFERENTLY. For instance, I’m very driven. I have a lot of energy, and a lot of ideas I want to implement. Sometimes I try to implement so many of my ideas very quickly because I’m afraid if I slow down, I won’t be able to accomplish everything. Even though my experience has shown me that I can connect on a deeper level when I’m slowed down, I still feel like I might lose part of my drive-my passion-my ideas-my visions. It simply isn’t true. My drive has always been, and will always be part of me. I can slow down and still keep my drive-the aspect of me that I love.
Is this you?
Do you fear losing part of your heritage and your culture and your core self if you modify your accent? Does it trigger thoughts of:
- “I am who I am and other people have to accept me.”
- “They just need to be more sensitive.”
- “They need to accept that speaking a different language is very challenging.”
- “When I came to America I had to rely on myself. I don’t need support.”
My Challenge to you
Those thoughts are natural and they are not wrong. I challenge you to think differently:
- “I know who I am and my communication isn’t about people accepting me. It’s about connecting with them.”
- “I am sensitive. That is why I want to learn to deepen my relationships through effective communication.”
- “I am courageous for speaking a different language in a different culture. I am confident I will keep my cultural heritage during accent modification.”
- “When I came to America, I was not aware of accent modification. Now I am ready for support.”
Not Right or Wrong
Use your accent when YOU WANT to. Accent modification is not about speaking “right or “wrong.” It’s about using communication tools to enhance your business and social relationships. You don’t need to change who you are as a communicator. You can change how you’re EXPERIENCING your communication. Just as when I slow down, I don’t lose my drive. I still am driven; I just connect more with my clients. I am more vulnerable and human with them. I celebrate their excitement when they produce those target sounds. I am able to read their nonverbal language; their furrowed brows indicating they need more examples to hear the differences between their native pronunciation and the American English pronunciation.
Many speakers of English as a second or other language are afraid of losing their identity-their connection to their heritage and culture, if they change their native accents. This is normal. If that’s true for you, I challenge you to think differently. Embrace both your native accent and your American accent. You are not “right” or “wrong” for speaking or not speaking in the American accent. Realize you have the choice to speak in the American accent once you learn it. It’s there for maximizing your success as you choose.
To your native culture, heritage, and brilliant self,