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to consider taking accent reduction classes?

(102 Posts)
Lilylo Mon 14-Mar-16 15:22:02

Hi everyone! I would love to hear impartial opinions on this.

I am originally from Italy, hence Italian is my mother tongue. I moved to the UK a couple of years ago and I have been working FT in a high-skilled job ever since. DH and I plan to settle and start a family in the UK (he is British). Prior to moving to the UK I lived abroad for several years in English speaking environments/ workplaces (US, Hong Kong, Beijing, Copenhagen), therefore I am pretty fluent in English.

I am often told by British colleagues and friends that my English is really good, but I still feel very conscious about my accent. I admit it is probably not terribly strong and most native English speakers understand virtually 99.9% of what I say, but you can still tell I am not a native English speaker.

For some reason lately I have been feeling more and more conscious about this "flaw", up to the point that I am thinking about paying £££ for accent reduction classes, in order to get rid of my foreign accent for good and possible sound a bit more native.

AIBU to spend £££ on getting rid of my foreign accent? If you are British, do you mind foreigners who are fluent in English but with an accent? If English was not your mother tongue and you have an accent too, how do you feel about it?

Many thanks for your comments!

ASmallHenInItsLateForties Mon 14-Mar-16 15:30:15

I love hearing accents! I would consider your Italian accent to be interesting and attractive; not a flaw at all. What has made you feel uncomfortable about it?

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 14-Mar-16 15:31:34

"For some reason lately I have been feeling more and more conscious about this "flaw", up to the point that I am thinking about paying £££ for accent reduction classes, in order to get rid of my foreign accent for good and possible sound a bit more native."

I think you need to work out what the actual reason is, and why you want to sound 'native'. And what do you think 'native' sounds like? There are so many native British accents, which will you aim for? Scouse? Brummie? Essex? Yorkshire?

Seriously, don't do it. Your accent is a part of you. "English speakers understand virtually 99.9% of what I say" - which is more than can be said of many native accents including mine.

scarlets Mon 14-Mar-16 15:33:21

Your accent is gorgeous. Don't alter it!

MaidOfStars Mon 14-Mar-16 15:34:18

What a fucking bonkers thread.

AIBU to spend £££ on getting rid of my foreign accent?
Yes, a thousand times over.

If you are British, do you mind foreigners who are fluent in English but with an accent?
No. Why on earth would I mind????

Why would you want to sound "native"? What does this even mean? Native Kent is very different to native Liverpool.

Vive la difference (or whatever the Italian version is).

WiseToTheLies Mon 14-Mar-16 15:34:56

Don't do it. Please. Everybody loves the Italian accent!

GreatFuckability Mon 14-Mar-16 15:36:08

I agree with WhereYouLeftIt. I'm welsh and my accent is very strong. Lots of people don't understand me unless I make a conscious effort to tone it down, but its part of who I am and id not want to change it.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 14-Mar-16 15:39:49

I lived in Italy for a few years. People knew I was 'foreign' even though my accent was very good. It's interesting, a conversation point and difference makes the world go around.

However, I did get sick of being asked, 20 times a day, "are you English". So if you are feeling self-conscious, you can work on it.

Ironically, I live in Canada now and it happens here.

jlivingstone Mon 14-Mar-16 15:45:34

I'm a linguist and have been an ex-pat in Asia for over a decade.

The last thing to leave is your accent (if ever) and it can be the most frustrating aspect to 'perfecting' a second language.

If I were you, I wouldn't bother.

Your post was written excellently, unlike most of the AIBU posts which make me despair for the future of English. You grammar and vocab. are obviously excellent.

Also, in my experience, accent teachers are far more focused on 'acting' than actual accent. Those with the intellect to understand and use speech science in practice are speech therapists.

If I were you, spend the money on something interesting. Cioccolato e vacanze!

anthologypoems.wikispaces.com/Search+for+my+Tongue

JanetOfTheApes Mon 14-Mar-16 15:47:25

It doesn't work anyway, you would be wasting your money. You might reduce it a bit, but you are not going to sound like a native. And I don't really see why you would want to.

marghini Mon 14-Mar-16 16:41:02

And what do you think 'native' sounds like? There are so many native British accents, which will you aim for? Scouse? Brummie? Essex? Yorkshire?

To be honest I would prefer to have (almost) any native accent rather than a foreign one. I like American, Canadian and Australian accents on top of most of regional British accents.

I think the reason why I feel so strongly about this is that I fear speaking with a foreign makes people perceive me as less "capable" than them.

Exacly like a limited vocabulary or a weak grammar, an accent tells people you are not 100% comfortable with a language. Even on a professional level, I think it can sometimes make you come across as less competent than you actually are.

marghini Mon 14-Mar-16 16:43:04

ops I had NC for this but I messed it up! I am actually the OP. Sorry!! grin

NadiaWadia Mon 14-Mar-16 16:45:32

As long as people can understand you clearly, then it really is no problem. An Italian accent is very attractive, it would be a shame to lose it.

JanetOfTheApes Mon 14-Mar-16 16:46:29

I've always thought the opposite, actually, that someone doing a professional/technical/difficult job in a language that is not their native one is MORE competent, not less. That they have achieved something more difficult and obviously work hard at it. The accent would be a positive for me.

ReallyTired Mon 14-Mar-16 16:46:48

Is the issue your accent or confidence? Your accent is part of who you are. Provided peopel can understand you then it really does not matter if you have an italian accent.

Speech and drama lessons might be good for confidence and make you feel more confident about who you are. Its a matter of finding the right teacher though. I suspect that the issue of confidence goes deeper than an italian accent.

HeadDreamer Mon 14-Mar-16 16:49:59

If English was not your mother tongue and you have an accent too, how do you feel about it?

I'm foreign and speak with a foreign accept. English is not my native tongue. I've never felt the need to speak with an English accent. Maybe the problem is you feel self conscious that you aren't English? I've never felt held back by it.

HeadDreamer Mon 14-Mar-16 16:51:35

FWIW, DH has a kiwi accent, he's often 'wheeled out' by his company as an example of a foreigner at his work.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 14-Mar-16 16:54:31

this made me laugh

my partner still sounds like Papa Dolmio and its been 20 years

the Italian accent is VERY hard to get rid off, just leave as is grin

Lilylo Mon 14-Mar-16 16:58:26

"this made me laugh

my partner still sounds like Papa Dolmio and its been 20 years

the Italian accent is VERY hard to get rid off, just leave as is"

You see, this is exactly why I do not want to have a foreign accent. I don't want to sound like Papa Dolmio sad

So it sounds like my mission truly is impossible, doesn't it?

HeadDreamer Mon 14-Mar-16 16:59:07

the Italian accent is VERY hard to get rid off, just leave as is

The english accent is also VERY hard to get rid off. PIL both sounds like brummie in NZ. After 30+ years. In fact, it's so english, when MIL returned to the UK last year, her new friends slagged off foreigners in front of her grin It's funny as MIL was very embarrassed about it. She considered herself foreign.

MaidOfStars Mon 14-Mar-16 16:59:56

Do you feel like "natives" might stereotype you?

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 14-Mar-16 17:01:51

strictly, its Mama Dolmio

I don't know, its a funny one as the Italians still keep their accent (the ones I know) - so do the French too

sorry - but people really like it, honest!

Sprink Mon 14-Mar-16 17:03:50

OP, my mother was French but moved to America in her early 20s with my father. After 30 years living there she chose to take accent reduction lessons, despite having worked her way to a position as VP of a national bank. Mostly, she wanted to perfect her 'th' sound.

I say the choice is yours and doesn't really indicate a lack of self confidence. It's just something you'd like to improve. I'm see nothing wrong with it. (And assume you'd go for Received Pronunciation such as actors learn during their training.)

As a side note, after retirement my mother worked as a part timer doing displays at a huge department store (for fun, to get out of the house a bit, and for the employee discount wink). After about a year she had her employee name badge changed to her maiden name (think Beauchamp) from her married name (think Schmidt) as she was routinely mistaken for being German.

(Sorry German people.) blush

hotchilipepper Mon 14-Mar-16 17:04:07

I wouldn't bother! My DGM has been here 58 years (also Italian) and still has an accent and I live to listen to her and understand everything she says.
Italian accents are lovely!

Lilylo Mon 14-Mar-16 17:07:24

"Do you feel like "natives" might stereotype you?"

Yea definitely, especially since I live in London where the Italian community is huge and sometimes perceived not so positively. This ain't exactly a good period to be a EU foreigner in the UK, IYSWIM.

I also think that sometimes my foreign accent gives the impression that my English is less fluent than it actually is.

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