Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

Rumours suggest that residents of La Tuque, Québec may be warming up to the idea of biting anglophone tourists when requested.

If you’re worried about your English accent when speaking French in Québec, don’t be.

Every so often, I receive an email from a reader concerned about how his or her accent isn’t “good enough.” My answer is always the same: it’s more than good enough, and don’t let your accent stop you.

Here are four reasons why.

1. Nobody’s going to bite you

Maybe you feel the need to hide your accent because you worry (needlessly) about an anti-English sentiment in Québec. If that’s the case, don’t waste another second harbouring this thought. You’ll be very well-received in Québec.

Some people will be interested in you because of your English accent, others will simply be indifferent. More importantly, nobody’s going to bite you because of your accent or because you’re anglophone.

If you ask nicely to be bitten however, somebody might oblige, especially in Montréal. Not sure about La Tuque.

2. Conversations will be easier

If you had no accent, other people wouldn’t bother to slow down a little when they speak. That’s fine if you already manage well in French, but less so when you’re still learning. Your accent can sometimes help signal to other people to not break out the pompoms in French just yet and to slow down a little, making the conversation easier.

You don’t need to worry about bilingual francophones switching to English because of your accent. It’s not usually the accent that causes a bilingual to switch, but the impression that you don’t understand what’s being said (work on your listening) or that you’re having trouble expressing yourself (work on your speaking).

If you do ultimately get the switch, remember that it’s not a Linguistic Blue Screen of Death (a fatal-error message in your head telling you that it’s game over). Rather, it’s an opportunity to try again, or to start a conversation, or to get feedback on your French, or something you simply brush off and carry on.

3. You’ll build confidence

If you’re worried about your accent, you’ll avoid speaking and begin to stagnate. Acknowledge your accent for what it currently is, then forget about it. Go find people to speak with and let your accent hang all out.

When you discover that nothing bad happens, you’ll feel confident about speaking more often. And the more often you speak with people, the more you may just find that your accent starts sounding québécois.

4. Everybody’s got an accent

And that’s especially true in Montréal, where people are used to hearing every accent imaginable in French. You’re not going to shock anybody with your accent.

When people hear your accent, they’ll know it means that you had to learn the language. That’s always impressive to people. Let your accent win you a few compliments from time to time. You’ve earned it.

It’s perfectly understandable to want to make your accent resemble the native speakers’ as closely as possible. For many learners, it’s an enjoyable and challenging goal to work towards. But don’t ever let your current accent prevent you from pursuing what you want from your efforts to learn French.

Photo credit: bouchecl/Wikipedia

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