Embrace your accent

It's hard to be accepted when English isn't your first language

Embrace+your+accent

Minh Anh Le, Staff Member

“Oh, where are you from?” or “Your accent is so interesting!” I can’t count how many times I’ve been told this. And I’m not the only one that faces this problem. 

I didn’t know what an accent was until more and more people told me about it. I started to feel there was something wrong with my Vietnamese accent. I moved to the United States two years ago and English has never been easy for me, and social discrimination against foreign accents just makes me feel even more insecure. 

I was told by someone to improve my accent, so it’s more “native” because people usually believe certain regional accents seem inferior in some ways. In the beginning, I thought it was just a minority opinion, but the more I research, there are dozens of “accent reduction classes.” It made me believe that my accent is different.  It isn’t welcome.

I sat in my room for hours, recording my own voice, hating it, and wishing it would be “better.” I hated my voice, and put myself down because of what people said. Deep down, I felt lost with a constant noise in my head telling me I’m not good enough. 

I’m not the only victim of this social discrimination. There are people who are afraid to speak up because they are scared that when they talk others will see something wrong about them.

The older I get, the more I realize it’s totally pointless to base your self-worth on a person’s opinion who barely knows who you are. 

Most of the time, people only think they are making a joke and forget it right after they say it, but it could hurt a person’s feelings and stays longer than they thought it would. What people thought was just a joke makes me feel insecure, and I wish that I was someone else every time I think about it.

People assume so many things based on where someone comes from and their accent. They believe a certain accent is superior, and the rest are inferior. It lowers people’s self-esteem, and some people are underrated because of their regional accent. 

People keep chasing for a standard accent because they believe otherwise they will face disadvantages in opportunities in life. This instilled idea needs to stop because it’s the person’s choice about whether to reduce their accent or keep it as how it is. 

When I first set foot in the US, the little English that I knew was barely enough to communicate with others. I felt a mixed feeling of fear, nervousness, and embarrassment. Imagine having to speak in a different language rather than your own and move across the world to a place you’ve never been. It’s never easy, and it takes a great deal of effort. So, others, who have no idea about the struggles that foreigners are facing, should stop making judgments and put even more pressure on them. 

People should feel more sympathy for others because it takes one second to make a judgment, but it stays with the other person for the rest of their life. 

Accents don’t define a person, but it’s a unique thing about someone and there’s no standard for which accent is better than which. Everyone has their own different voice, and that is what makes our world diverse and we should appreciate that instead of criticizing or making judgments.