“people don’t care about accent”
You know who told me that? People who don’t speak a second language. Try walking one day in the shoes of someone who LIVES in their second language. You have a big advantage don’t you? Confidence, prejudice, easy communication, opportunities, Maybe you like that advantage… I focus on accent because Im asked to.
I don’t know if Chinese will ever become the next global language, but if it does become the global language be suspicious of anyone telling you not to sound more native.
I recently wrote a post on this topic on Linkedin. Here are some of the comments from people:
“I’m an English native who speaks Arabic and I can absolutely testify that accent is key. Predominately if you wish to be treated equally in the local country. And with Arabic, the accents vary so drastically that they are the pinnacle to local interaction. If you don’t learn the accent, you’ll always be viewed differently. It’s just human nature unfortunately.” – Jack Heyton
I am nearly 50% deaf at the frequency of human speech. (An ironic disability for a linguist, I know.) I miss a lot of what is said to me and need to frequently ask speakers to repeat what they said. I cannot hear whispered speech, no matter how “loud” the whisper. Thick accents from NNS make a bad situation worse. I rely on guessing and prediction to “fill in” missed words, and if speech is heavily accented I may miss too many words to get enough context to fill in the gaps. I have given up on numerous business interactions or sometimes basically handed the phone to my partner out of frustration and let him finish the call. – Heidi Brumbaugh