Have you been insecure about your foreign accent in the past? You may think that all you need is the correct word pronunciation to overcome your insecurity. But your foreign accent isn’t the issue! It is your asset and I will tell you why:
“Correct Pronunciation” Isn’t that All We Want?
I can’t tell you how many times I have considered signing up for a language pronunciation course. A course that would help me to improve or even get rid of my German accent. Well, too many times, until I realized the truth about my foreign accent.
Having a foreign accent can be difficult at times… Believe me, I get It!
Of course, I had moments in the past where someone asked me to repeat myself. So, they could understand what I said. Or getting starred at by others when they realized I had a foreign accent, which was usually after the first sentence I said. Not to forget, the face people make when they don’t listen to anything I have to say, rather wonder where I was from…
But what usually hurt the most is when people cut the conversation short because they didn’t want to “deal” with my foreign accent.
I almost wish the answer was no, but I’m sure for most of you the answer is yes! And I’m glad it is. “Wait. What?”
Here are “5 Reasons Why:”
1. Having a Foreign Accent Makes An Excellent Icebreaker
I’m sure you can’t hear that questions “oh you have an accent, where are you from?” anymore. (Learn more about my story here.)
However, it makes an excellent icebreaker. I have had fantastic conversation simply because people recognized I have a foreign accent. This always led to a conversation…
My foreign accent helps me to find out more about a person
Therefore, instead of being annoyed by this question I used it to my advantage. I told people all about my background and you will always find them answering with a comment about themselves. Something like, “I have a cousin from Germany” or “I was stationed in Germany!” Now, that is the information I need to find out more about the person and to decide if I want to be friends or not. What I found helpful during those conversations is to be kind and to smile a lot.
Let’s face it we foreigners always have to try a little bit harder. 😉
Shifting my attitude about “pronunciation” made all the difference
For instance, just the other day, during my daughter’s preschool orientation. When the parents were put in a large room, while our kiddos played in the other room with their teacher. It was the type of situation where you don’t know anyone and you can’t just leave. Ugh, I know right!
Anyhow, one of the moms asked me where the coffee was –at least they had free coffee.- She noticed my German accent and 20 minutes later we were still talking about anything, but my foreign accent. My German accent is what started this conversation and I got my first mom friend in her school. Yay!!
2. Your Accent And Pronunciation Makes You Interesting To Some Not To Others
Besides, I have met some of the most open-minded people because of my foreign accent. People who love to hear about other cultures and opinions. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it is to talk to people like that. Why? Because we learn from one another! They usually teach me a thing or two, while I get to teach them about my experiences as a foreigner. Or even about my home country. Win = Win!
People who know what it’s like
Furthermore, I noticed that these people have something in common. Maybe you have noticed it, too… They have traveled to other countries and know what it’s like to be foreign. Not to speak the countries language. This helped them to see the person they talk to rather than “just” a foreigner. Traveling changes us for the better. Don’t you think? 🙂
Just ignore people who are close-minded it’s their loss
Now, for the people who don’t care about foreigners or foreign accents… Do you want to be friends with these people or honestly care what they think? Yea, me neither! It’s their loss. Let’s move on.
3. Foreign Accents Help Us To Understand That We Are Not Alone
Have you looked around recently? Perhaps listen to your surroundings? Did you notice how many different languages were spoken around you? I bet you weren’t the only one who was foreign –talking with a foreign accent-!
Truthfully, this was hard for me to realize and I didn’t fully understand it until my husband made me aware of it. “Listen, honey, I’m probably the only one with an American accent in here!” Oh, yea. 🙂
I WAS NOT ALONE!!! I mean how great is that!!
Over time, I realized others were going through the same thing and most of them were thriving. Either they had successful jobs or they were the most amazing moms. I’m telling you we have so much to offer!
Therefore, I used this knowledge to connect with them and to find out more about how they got there. These are the best people to learn from after all! As you can see…
4. Our Accents Help Us To Find One Another
Also, have you ever noticed the secret bond foreigners have? I joined different groups (moms/workout groups) in the past and I instantly made friends with all the foreign moms in those groups. Yes, some friendships are thicker than others, but we stick together. We have each other’s back! Without our accents, it probably would have taken us a long time to find each other and become friends in the process.
Be aware of your surroundings! You will get so much valuable information from just being aware of the people around you. I’m sure you are not the only one who doesn’t have an American accent.
5. Diversity Is Everything And At Least We Understand The English Language
Besides, have you noticed the change in society? Diversity is everywhere!
For this purpose, check out your workplace, your mom’s groups, or even your favorite show. Chances are you will notice diversity… People from different countries and backgrounds. Being a foreigner is not a disadvantage anymore! It makes you unique and exciting. And I bet you that you have something unique to offer thanks to your background.
Use your background to your advantage
Finally, help your family, community, and even the workforce with what you have to offer. You are good enough, I promise you!! Nobody cares if you can’t correctly pronounce a word in the English language. At least, you can communicate in English. Just focus on what you really have to say.
So, DON’T Get Rid Of Your Accent!! Be Proud Of It.
Sure, you can work on your accent and improve it. I have watched some pronunciation videos on how to correctly pronounce the “th” in the English language. But DON’T you try to get rid of your accent or even be ashamed of it. Your accent makes you who you are. A fantastic and exciting person! Use it to let others see the person your family and friends see in you.
I, for one, am proud of my heritage and my German accent. It makes me stick out and as you can see I learned to use it to my advantage. More importantly, I use it for something good “to connect with others.”
Don’t forget to check out my bilingual activities for kids.