Have you ever thought that listening to different accents might confuse you or slow down your progress in English? This is a concern that I’ve heard a lot over the years, and today I’ll share the truth about what listening to different accents and dialects can actually do to your English.
Hey everyone. Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 373. And today I want to talk to you about listening to different accents and whether or not it could ruin your pronunciation.
So I often get these questions from students about things that might ruin their English, like what I’m going to talk about today – different accents. So let’s say you have been working towards your goals, and maybe you even practice pronunciation. And maybe you focus on a specific accent, like an American accent, which is the dialect that I generally use.
And maybe you thought to yourself, well, what happens if I start listening to a podcaster that has a British accent? Or what happens if I start watching this Australian series? Would that affect all the work that I have done? Now, this is a legit question. I can see why someone who’s been working really, really hard on their pronunciation and they’re used to a certain dialect or a certain accent or certain sounds, when they hear different sounds, it might throw them off. But is it bad? Or maybe it’s actually good for you. So that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
And after you listen to this episode, if you have any thoughts about it, or if you disagree with me, then come say hi on Instagram. You can find me at @hadar.accentsway, and send me a DM, a direct message, and tell me what you think about this episode, okay? All right. So let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.
Would listening to different accents mess up your pronunciation?
“I was riding along this morning, minding my own business.” “You what?”
“No. Apparently it’s been deactivated, over.”
“What can be done to make sure that those with a disability are able to move around more freely.”
“Nah, it’s not going on like that, mate. So I jumped in my car and I started chasing him up the road.”
This is a question I get from my students quite a lot. And today I want to address how listening to different dialects and accents of English may affect your pronunciation, especially if you are working on your pronunciation. So, let’s get started.
Many students, when they are learning English and learning pronunciation, working on their pronunciation, they usually choose a certain dialect, whether it’s General American or British English, Received Pronunciation. And sometimes they’re so focused on getting this certain dialect right, that they completely eliminate any possibility of listening to different dialects out of the fear of getting confused or, you know, having their pronunciation get all messed up. So let’s talk about it.
First of all, and that’s probably the most important thing, when you work on your pronunciation so that you could sound clear and confident – and it doesn’t matter if you live in the US or you live in the UK – the most important thing is clarity. So that means that the sounds would be pronounced clearly, that you won’t replace a certain sound with another sound, that you would be confident pronouncing sounds. And the accuracy of getting a particular accent right is really less important, unless you are an actor working on your role as an American. Okay?
So usually for most people, it doesn’t matter that the accent is not associated with a particular dialect because clarity is more important than accuracy. And there is so much variation when it comes to speakers of English and different dialects, and there isn’t right type of accent or pronunciation that you should follow. Like I said, as long as it’s clear.
Now, I teach General American, this is what I have learned. I find it It’s easy to teach those sounds, easier for most students. And when I teach it, when I see that my students find different variations because it’s easier for them, I am all about it as long as it’s clear. So, that is to say that even if you are sometimes affected by other dialects of English, it doesn’t really matter and it’s not a big deal for your clarity. So that’s first, and I wanted to put it out there.
However, does it really affect you? Let’s say you practice American pronunciation, and you’ve been practicing the word ‘water’ quite a lot. And then you start listening to this podcast or TV show, and the host always says [wo-ah], and not water. The likelihood of you going to the local grocery store and saying, “Hey, excuse me, can I please get a bottle of [wo-ah]” is pretty unlikely. It’s not like because you were exposed to it, you are now destined to pronounce it this way.
Think about any speaker, an American speaker living in the UK, someone from Australia, moving to Canada: do they lose their accent just because they’re immersed in another dialect? No, your speech habits are stronger than what happens around you. Now, of course it does affect. Sometimes when we hear certain musicality or intonational pattern, we tend to imitate it. That might be affected. But the actual sounds and pronunciation of words are less likely to change – especially if you have strong habits, and if you’ve done work – simply by being exposed to other dialects.
So, to answer your question – no, listening to different dialects of English is not going to ruin your work, and it’s not going to ruin your pronunciation. On the contrary, and this is where I’m going to add, that not only it’s okay to listen to different accents and dialects, it is actually really important that you do it.
When you expose yourself to different dialects of English, you improve your listening skills. You understand how sounds are organized, even if it’s just subconsciously. You understand how people replace sounds, and you’re actually likely to do so much better as a communicator because you expose yourself to different speakers and different accents.
So not only that it’s okay, it’s actually highly recommended that you expose yourself to different accents and know it is not going to mess up anything. Okay? I’m going to put some resources for you to watch of speakers that we like on our team, who have different accents in English. And if you have other recommendations, let me know in the comments as well.
All right, that’s it. I hope I answered your questions. And if you enjoyed it, please consider liking, subscribing. And also come check out my website at hadarshemesh.com for more resources and more information about how to speak English with clarity, but also, and not less important, with confidence and freedom.
Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day, and I will see you next week in the next video.
Are you exposed to different accents in English? How has it impacted your progress?