Should You Speak English Like a Native Speaker?

Do you want to sound more like an American or British English speaker?
Many students say that they do, but I’ve always wondered why they think
it’s so important.
Obviously, you want to be understood when you speak English, and for
this reason it’s important to practice pronunciation as well as grammar and
vocabulary. But if people can understand you and you can communicate
effectively, is it really important to speak like Colin Firth, Judy Dench or
Madonna?
Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz have made millions of dollars speaking
English with a Spanish accent. It’s part of their identity, it’s who they are!
Be proud of your Argentinian, your Mexican or your French accent when you
speak English.
Also, there’s no such thing as one single English accent. There are thousands!
Which one should you choose to copy? RP (Received Pronunciation) is spoken
by only 2% of the British population, so if you copy the Queen, British politicians
or BBC newsreaders, you’ll be very much in the minority.
It’s important to remember that you are in the majority as a non-native English
speaker who has an accent. Around 350 million people speak English as their
first language, but it’s estimated that between 470 million and 1 billion people
in the world are non-native speakers of English. That puts the ratio at around 3:1.
For every one native speaker there are three non-native English speakers with
accents!
Of course, you may want to be an English teacher. In that case, I suggest studying
the standard British English pronunciation. That’s the pronunciation that is taught
in most English text books and in international academies like the British Council,
for example. This accent is represented by the common phonetic pronunciation
symbols, the International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, and it’s generally spoken in
the South of the UK in and around London and the River Thames Estuary area.
You may want to speak like a native just because it sounds better. That’s fine,
I’m not saying don’t try to improve your pronunciation. However, I am suggesting
that you embrace your individualism and your local identity when you speak English.
I think accents are sexy!
 

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