The Great Big Accent Debate
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The aim of all of our learners of English as a Foreign Language is to be able to communicate in English. While this may seem like a pretty straightforward goal, if you consider the huge variety in differences in our learners – their linguistic backgrounds and language needs – you may understand there is no one way in which this communication can be realised. What is acceptable as a means of communication for one person may not be acceptable for another. Nowhere is this clearer than in the debate of accent, which affects both the teaching and the learning process.
What is the great big accent debate?
There is debate among teachers as well as students as to what the “best” English accent is. For the most part, if you ask that question you could expect the answer to be British English or American English. This, however, is problematic.
First of all, there is no one accent in those regions but rather hundreds of different English accents depending on which geographical region you find yourself in, so those answers are a bit flimsy. Secondly, is this to say that other English accents are not comprehensible? Surely not. Whether a person is a native English-speaker from Scotland or a language learner from South Korea, their intelligibility does not depend entirely on where they come from but rather from individual traits which are factors for both native and non-native speakers.
Even with taking all this into consideration, though, there are still those who believe that the British Received Pronunciation accent is best, and this is the crux of the debate. Should we be teaching the RP accent in our EFL classroom? Should non-native speakers be required to have neutral accents before being accepted into EFL teaching positions? Should native speakers also have this requirement?
How to deal with accent in the EFL classroom
Let’s put our two cents in right here: there is no one correct accent. To believe that RP should be the only accent our students are exposed to in the classroom is outdated, unrealistic and a disservice to our students. There is nothing that makes an English accent from one part of the world better than that from another, or indeed than that of a non-native speaker. What’s more, our English language learners are more likely to be speaking English to other non-native speakers than native speakers.
What does this mean for your EFL class?
Basically, it doesn’t matter what accent you, as the teacher, has, as long as you speak clearly and intelligibly. You need to make your students aware of your accent and how it may differ from speakers with other accents (including RP). You must include listening activities which expose your students to other accents, especially the more common accents and any accents you know your students will be exposed to. Finally, focus on any pronunciation issues which affect intelligibility.
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LAST UPDATED: 5th July 2022
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In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
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- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
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- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
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You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
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- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
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Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.