We all have an Accent! How to Self-Advocate for Questions about your Background

Pick up some responses to questions like: “Where are you from” and “You’ve got a strong accent” with our empowering tips.

we all have an accent

FYI! We all have an accent.

If someone has just asked you a question about your background and accent that made you feel uncomfortable, we hope that this blog post helps prepare you for the next time it happens so that you can respond eloquently to questions about your accent.

Did you ever wonder what to say when someone asks a question along these lines?

What’s your background. I hear a strong accent there

Where are you from?

How long have you lived here? Why do you still have an accent?

Where’s that accent from?

Often these questions have good intentions but are not delivered well. Let’s use advocacy to stand up for ourselves and educate others. We can be clever with how we do this so that we don’t reinforce the stigma. Let’s instead take the higher ground because we, know more than anyone, the advantages of bilingualism. Deal?

All of us have an accent.

We need to talk about how you can make your accent an asset by self-advocating.

Our team have prepared some simple tips that you can implement starting now!

#1 Acknowledge their position

Even if the question about our accent was borderline triggering, we need to find a way to handle our answer well so that we can stay calm, eloquent & classy.

Ignorant or even provoking questions don’t need to see us lose our good attitude but they do need us to set boundaries.

So how can you first acknowledge the question and move forward?

That could sound like this-

Thanks for showing an interest in my background. I assume you’re asking about my heritage?

#2 Advocate for yourself (and the rest of us while you’re at it 😊)

That could sound like this-

I’m an Australian.

I’ve been in Australian for longer than I can believe. I’m not sure how that is important to this conversation? Can you give me more info on why this would matter to you?

I was lucky to be born in a different hemisphere before coming to Australia! But after 10 years, I’m as Australian as you!

I’m Thai Australian! What’s something interesting about your background?

We were talking about a reservation for tonight, I’m not sure where my background comes into it?

It’s up to you how much info you want to provide. If you don’t feel comfy discussing your family tree, the ins and outs of your visa/ residency, simple tap out of giving that info. This is your right and choice!

#3 Position yourself and educate

That could sound like this-

Unlike many people at our work, I’m lucky to be bilingual.

I’m blessed to speak two languages. My mother tongue is one of the best gifts from my family and English I managed to pick up through my studies!

I speak only English, but sure, it might sound different to you because English in my home country, Ghana, has some different sounds from Australian English. What’s great is that no matter the minor surface differences, we share the same language! English is so rich, it sounds different in each country it’s spoken but fortunately no accent is better than another.

#4 Open the floor

Involve your conversation partner in the conversation by asking them a question on the similar topic. This will have a levelling effect for anyone who hasn’t realised yet that it’s not all about accent, instead it’s all about equality and equal access!

That could sound like this:

If you could learn a language to increase your IQ/ boost your memory/ sharpen your thinking , which would you pick? (This is a great Q because we know from research that bilingualism and language learning in general prompts cognitive benefits).

What’s something interesting about your background?

When did your family first come out to Australia?

Your surname sounds Irish, were your ancestors from Ireland?

Watch this video from Voice Science TV 🎥

What’s next?

Don’t forget, no accent is better than another & there’s no such thing as a strong accent.

Clarity and confidence matter more than your sound.

Thank you so much for watching. I hope this vlog has given you some new insights things to think about if you need to advocate for your speaking and identity in Melbourne or anywhere else in this big and multi-lingual world.

Ciao for now,

The Voice Science Team!

Personalised Pronunciation Audit

If you want to get some feedback on your English pronunciation, you’ve got to see Your Personalised Pronunciation Audit.

When you enrol you’ll score yourself a total audit into every single sound of English so that you learn which sounds need more work. We’ll also do a fun vocal health survey and spot check aspects of your social communication to make sure you are speaking as comfortably and as confidently as you can.

Important Disclaimer 🔴

The Aussie Accent is not the only way to speak English.

In fact, in Australia, we have numerous different forms of English pronunciation, and I’d argue that all of them are as legitimate and official as each other.

Your speaking is not inferior if you live in Australia but don’t have an Aussie accent.

Currently, there are more non-native speakers of English than native, so no one can tell you that using a mainstream Aussie accent is the only correct way to speak if you live in Australia.