Let’s get one thing straight.
I never woke up one day and thought I want to remove people’s accents. I never thought I want people to sound like me. I wanted to be a cowboy.
The truth is people just wanted me to teach them how to speak English like a native speaker. I worked as a language teacher for 15 years and most of that time I never thought twice about this aspect of the language. But over the years more and more people asked me, begged me to coach them to speak with a native accent and pronunciation.
I began to see how important it was to people.
I saw their confidence being shattered by reaching a point where they just couldn’t improve any more. I saw them crying in my classroom while they said they are ashamed of their speech. I saw how painful it was to be part of a society and yet an outsider. I saw people who were experts in their fields with just one barrier left to cross. I started to see the undeniable advantage of effortless speech that didn’t put a label on you.
So I started playing with coaching pronunciation and accent. I read books and listened to people carefully. Then I threw out the books because I realised they didn’t work. I realised that perfect speech is actually imperfect. I realised I needed to teach people how to break all the rules and let the language flow in a new way.
I have a VERY good ear. And I am VERY creative. So I just listened and found ways to communicate precisely what cannot be heard or understood. I started to see people getting it. They said, “I literally feel a shift in my brain”. They said “You are a magician. Suddenly I can understand everyone” They said “I can see myself as a native speaker and it feels so good”. So I kept going.
My profession is an extremely tender topic.
People feel uncomfortable with my work. Others think it is amazing. It provokes questions of identity, and touches deepest fears of acceptance and pride, insecurities that have been pushed away and prejudices that are denied. I understand all that. But this is doing people good. I see confidence growing and barriers being smashed. So let’s Keep winning.
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