Updated: Jul 31, 2020
English speakers can be found in every country. There are over 1 billion speakers, the majority of whom are non-native. Given this diversity, one would assume that understanding different accents would be a key goal in English classrooms. The reality, however, is much different. Here at Accents Welcome, our mission is to expose students to this diversity.
Today, most courses focus on exposing students to native accents. Classroom recordings usually include native speakers or individuals with very minimal accents. Pronunciation is adjusted to fit along these native-speaker lines. Outside of classes, many students consume English media that contains native accents. This may be from television, news, or social media. This exposure to native speakers helps students understand them easily. The issue for many learners, however, is they cannot understand the accents which make up the majority of English speakers.
Overcoming this obstacle is straightforward: exposure to diverse accents will help you notice differences in pronunciation, intonation, and stress which will ensure you understand speakers from every country. We believe learners should be able to understand people from Spain, Brazil, or Vietnam, just as easily as they understand British, Australian, or North American speakers.
Here at Accents Welcome, we help students develop this skill by exposing them to different accents. Some of these accents may be easy to understand, others may more challenging. Some may be native, but most are non-native. The connection between all of them is that they are real users of English. We do not edit recordings if they include minor grammar mistakes or mispronunciations as students will encounter this frequently when using English. Exposure to diverse accents in the classroom will ensure you understand these accents in the real world.
While our curriculum will help you develop these skills, there are plenty of resources that can help you develop these skills independently. We have recordings on our site that are free to access. We also offer free quizzes each week. Travel videos can be a great resource as they often include real speakers from different countries.
For those who want to broaden their exposure, there are options such as The Speech Accent Archive and IDEA (International Dialects of English Archive) which include authentic recordings of speakers from around the world. These sites include so much diversity that we frequently use them in our lessons.
The Future of English
English will continue to be the language of international communication for years to come. We hope this future includes a huge amount of diversity. We believe that the most successful English speakers will be those who can easily communicate with people from every part of the globe. Those who can understand Frech, Mexican, and Japanese accents easily will have opportunities to make connections across cultures that can benefit them both personally and professionally. Learning English as a global language opens opportunities that traditional English teaching does not.