I know that I have not been as active as I would like. However, today I want to drop some lines on a issue that is on my mind and I cannot take it off.
According to my experience not only as a Student of English, but also as a teacher of Spanish; I came up with the conclusion that accent was not important in the process of communication. Besides, I thought that the most important thing when you are learning a language is communicating your ideas fluently and accurately. Actually, since I was at the college; I have always had this discussion with colleagues and students. Nevertheless, the last time I had that argument was on Sunday with a friend of mine from high school. Afterwards, I realized that accent is an important on the languages learning process.
Let me begin by saying that I am not totally convinced on what I’m going to write. This is just I reflection that is still on the back of my mind. I am pretty sure this will be a never lasting discussion. As a matter of fact I have already written something about this on my previous blogs (by the way, thank you for the feedback).
BACK TO THE TOPIC.
First of all, I would like to clarify that I heal from Colombia. I lived in a country that is totally Americanized, and people sometimes do not realize on the influenced that United States has on us. Hence, the accent that most of people tend to use her in Colombia is American. However, we have to keep in my mind that English is speaking all around the world and it was spread by British speakers not by Americans Speakers. That is why I would like to talk a little bit about history: The island of Great Britain used part of the Roman Empire from 43 AD until c. 410, therefore; Latin was spoken in Britain. Gone with the time on the 11th Century there was an invasion by the Normans, as a result, French was spoken in Britain. And this information is just some instance for understanding that the development of English took a lot of time in Britain and it represents a very enriched and varied cultural legacy of people who strove defending their identity. (further information on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language)
This is a fact that I cannot argue. English language was born and has developed in Britain. British people speak English because it is part of their background. Besides, thanks to English the United Kingdom is now recognized everywhere as a great nation. Nevertheless, American accent is spread all around the world and in my country is so used that I insisted on that. We have to learn both American and British accents.
In theory, it is true we have to learn both accents because they are equal important; in practice, we need to take into account that when you are learning accent is important when you are learning a language but it is not essential. Again, to my mind at this moment accent is not essential for the process of communication. Nevertheless, I am changing my mind. I have started to believe that if you want to improve and show off that you have learned English. It is better to practice more with British accent because that is English at all.
Shall I be honest? If you want to study, to live abroad, or to demonstrate you level of English; you are going to be assessed most of the times with European (British) standards. So the vocabulary, the use of English, or even your pronunciation is going to be evaluated under British patterns, so, of course it is important to learn English, but it is also important to reflect on your learning process and take exams and evaluate yourself. if the standards are given by British Patterns, we (the ones who studies American English) have to focus on British realistic English.