Changing an accent is not easy. I would say it’s a moderately difficult task, especially when I am in classrooms with students trying again and again to make the correct sounds. To many, these attempts are terrifying and the perceived humiliation of making a mistake stops them from succeeding.
Let’s take a closer look at this for a bit. I don’t want to be unfair. Failing is painful and embarrassing when it’s happening in front of people we barely know or have just met. We worry we will be judged by our failures before anyone gets a chance to see who we truly are. I know this is true because many people, including myself, say they relate to this point.
When I am in the gym with my trainer and I am asked to complete a high number of reps or try a new exercise I haven’t done before, that is when I am most self-conscious. It almost feels like everyone else in the gym knows the exact task at hand and is waiting to see how I will do.
The truth? None of them really care, and if they saw me fail (as I do a few times with everything) it will most probably trigger one of these 3 thoughts in their mind:
- I remember when that was me
- That looks hard, I probably can’t do that either.
- I am inspired by that dedication to get it right.
In our classes I watch students relentlessly try to change the way they speak, the way they position their mouth, the way they pronounce the vowels. It is a noble and rewarding failure every time they get it wrong. What is rewarding about it though? FEEDBACK! Without the failure, there won’t be any feedback. Without the rough and tough humiliating mistakes we make on our path to success, we won’t find a guide to success.
How many times do you need to fail before you succeed? As many times as it takes.