Accessibility links

Is Having An Accent a Positive or a Negative?

  • Jessica Stahl

On his blog about life at Berkeley College in New York, blogger Jose Navarro debates whether having an accent is a positive or a negative for international students in the US.

He writes of his English language skills:
Now, it's not that I have a problem with the language, but I do (as most of the people from Spain) have an accent.

In New York it’s not uncommon to hear many different accents from all across the world, but Jose writes that his accent still gets noticed.
I know no one would do it on purpose, but after having done your work, prepared whatever you wanted to say, gather the courage to stand in front of people to speak and hear someone ask "oh, so you're from Barcelona? you have an accent" is not so pleasant.

But, he says, if you don’t take yourself too seriously, “[m]ispronouncing some words when you're with friends is funny most of the times … Guess what? People like people that make them smile!”

Many of our bloggers have found that having an accent can also open up opportunities to teach people about your culture and background, as Jamal has noted:
In my college in the U.S., and in towns where I go, people ask where I come from. When I say that I am from Kyrgyzstan, many people laugh and think I made up such a country, or that the name is misspelled. I know it may sound funny, but this is true!



I found that people wanted to know about Kyrgyzstan’s geography and culture, and in particular, people were curious if Kyrgyz culture is similar to Europe’s, or to the Asian culture instead. So, from this meeting I learned that people are really interested in meeting other people from different parts of the world, especially from not well-known countries.

Jose concludes on a positive note:
Moreover, and above all, it's part of our identity. The way I speak tells a lot about myself. I might be learning a lot and improving my language skills, but no one will ever ask me if I'm from California. I'm sure I will always have the accent and I just decided not to worry anymore about it. As long as it's not a communication barrier (and I can tell it is not!), I think it's a beautiful thing. It's nice that everyone can communicate in the same language and yet speak in different ways.
XS
SM
MD
LG