Community Tutor
Lack of Knowledge of Different Native English Accents

In my time here on italki and teaching students online, I have been surprised by the number of students that have no lack of knowledge of how many different native English accents there are in the world. It's true that the most common ones and the ones mostly taught in schools are American and British, but students should also be aware that English is not only the native language in several other countries, but that the accents and dialects are very different.


For example, in one on my classes recently, I had a student accuse me of not being from where I am from because he assumed my accent would be different just because of my geographical location, even though the student had no past knowledge of the accent from my country and had never even heard it before so I found his accusation rather shocking and silly as he had no idea of what the accent we have sounded like in the first place and he just assumed that because I was near another country that my accent should be the same, which is a ridiculous assumption to make.


Just because a person is from one country does not mean that they will talk exactly the same as someone from a bordering country. Everyone has different accents and dialects, even within the same country. 


I think it's particularly important for students or people that intend to travel or to live and work in an English speaking country that they become familiar with all accents. If you want to go to work and life in America for example, that does not mean that you only need to know the American accent. People need to realise that going to America or any country, you will come across all nationalities and cultures and therefore all kinds of different accents. So going to live or study or work in America does not mean it is sufficient to only know how Americans talk.


So my advice to anyone would be, become familar with all accents and don't be naive enough to think that just knowing one type of accent or one type of English will be enough to help you survive in the English speaking world.


Thanks for your time

May 31, 2014 10:43 AM
Comments · 22

One of my favorite American accents is the Appalacian accent (maybe because I love bluegrass music). I grew up in central Ohio, and many of my neighbors had a bit of this accent.


Here's a map of the region:


This is a great video on Yuoutube if you want to hear it for yourself.




June 22, 2014

American accents are also regional. I was born on the west coast, but I moved to the east coast where the accent is identical. Travel to Boston, or to the southern part of the USA and many people will speak differently. 

Arabic speakers read this discussion and conclude incorrectly that English variations are similar to variations in their language. It is not the same. The Irish and the Jamacians all speak the same English as those who live in London England or London, Ontario. Creoles are different, but they are not English. 

My point is that the variation in English affects letter sounds and minor vocabulary changes. Arabic speakers often use the word "accent" to mean regional language. 

June 3, 2014

Damian, that student of yours doesn't sound like he would be the sharpest crayon in the box even in his own language. :)

June 22, 2014

I don't know....


English accents can be so incredibly different from one another that I can't understand many of them and I'm a native speaker! If I were to go to Ireland or India I would have a really hard time understanding the language for awhile. 


It's a lot to ask of a language learner to be able to discern every accent. 


I feel like with Spanish I'm going to be delighted when I understand ONE! :) I'm just skipping Mexican Spanish because honestly, I can't make heads or tails of it. It's the accent that I will encounter the most here in Texas, but it's just not going to do for me to learn that one now. Sometimes I can't believe that they are actually speaking Spanish, just like the people on the phone giving me help with my computer in India I can't believe they are actually speaking English because I often can't understand a word they say! I watched a movie with people speaking in heavy Louisiana accents recently and I had to put on the subtitles. 


It's good to know about them all though so that you can make sure you pick the one (or two?) that you like the most and is the easiest to make out for you. It's important which one you pick, but if you don't understand them all, don't worry.... EITHER DO I! :)

June 22, 2014

The number of English accents are enormous. When I supposed that I can understand speaking of the actors in american movie and started watching another movie I was totally confused with accent of another actors. I guessed that accent is not only the sign of the area you had grown up but also some personal specifics.

June 22, 2014
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