Monday, October 1, 2007

Selling Out and Sounding "American"

I met with a potential new ESL student the other day. He primarily wants to work on his speaking skills. He said he's tired of people in his office not being able to understand him. He's fluent in English. English was taught along with his native language in his country, so he's been speaking English since he was a kid. He also went to college and graduate school in the U.K.

The main problem is his accent and pronunciation. But an interesting thing was his insight about not wanting to let go of his accent. He had some emotional attachment to it. He felt almost as if he'd be selling out if he sounded "more American." And yet, he wants to take private ESL lessons to help him with his English.

This was just a reminder to me that learning to communicate effectively in English isn't only about English. There may be a lot of other things going on that can get in the way of improving one's English. The ESL's tutor or teacher's awareness of this may help him or her to be a better teacher.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is fantastic insight and you are so correct, it is not just about English. Peer/family pressure is a major block in one's ability in acquiring a language and how well one speaks it. There are many, many factors, but that is a big one.

Your opinion on ESL teacher/tutor awareness is right on. Having that information will signal to the teacher/tutor how to approach the student and assist in diminishing his/her insecurities while helping ease the tensions surrounding peer/family pressure.

Understanding makes things easier for both the teacher and the student.