A lot of English learners think they need to sound like native English speakers. The good news is, that's not true! Today, we'll tell you three reasons most people do not need a native English accent.
1. If you speak clearly, your accent doesn't matter
As an adult, it's almost impossible to lose your accent. So you might as well keep it. Just make sure you speak clearly. As long as you can speak clearly, it doesn't matter if you have an American accent or an Italian accent.
In fact, many successful people speak English with a clear, non-native accent: e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penélope Cruz, Arianna Huffington, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc.
There are probably some famous people in your country who speak accented but clear English. Instead of trying to sound like a native speaker, make those people your role model for good pronunciation.
2. Non-native English accents are the norm
Did you know that non-native English speakers outnumber native English speakers in the world today?
- One linguist has estimated that there are three times as many non-native speakers as native speakers.
- Another linguist has estimated that native speakers will only be 5% of the world population by 2050.
This means that non-native English accents — like yours — are actually the norm.
3. Your accent is a part of you
Learning a new language doesn't mean you need to change your personality, values, or any other part of your identity. That includes your accent.
So instead of trying to lose your accent, accept it. Tell yourself, "I am Turkish. I speak English with a lovely Turkish accent." Some people may even find your accent interesting!
Also, remember that English is made up of diverse dialects and accents. For example, native English accents include Australian, Irish, Scottish, South African, southern American, and northern English accents, just to name a few. Your accent adds another unique color to the world of English.
Are there any benefits to learning a native accent?
At this point, you may be wondering if there are any benefits to learning a native English accent. The answer is "yes," but only for specific types of learners.
- If you live in a native English-speaking country, learning to speak like the locals will help you fit in better.
- If your work requires you to interact with native English speakers (e.g. you work for a call center), learning their accent will make it easier for them to understand you and vice versa.
- If your field of work prefers native accents (e.g. you work as a news presenter), learning to sound like a native speaker will help you get a job.
- If you particularly like an accent, learning it can boost your confidence when you speak.