To this very day I’ve been receiving comments and e-mails in relation to the same old Fluency VS Foreign Accent issue.
I’m being told by my English Harmony YouTube channel commentators that my accent is terrible and therefore I’m not speaking fluently – especially in my earlier videos.
I’m asked questions by my blog readers such as “How can I improve my English fluency and speak without foreign accent” as if it were the same thing – I mean, speaking FLUENTLY and speaking WITHOUT ACCENT.
I keep telling people – “Look, fluency doesn’t necessarily mean your accent is going to be completely eradicated, it’s possible to speak fluently while at the same time retaining your native accent.”
I publish articles featuring celebrities such as Antonio Banderas and Arnold Schwarzenegger to prove that it IS TOTALLY possible to speak fluently and function properly in an English speaking society AND speak with a foreign accent.
And I also keep telling those who just won’t leave me alone that I’m not advising my fellow foreign English speakers to DELIBERATELY speak with a hard accent; the heck – I even started this blog to prove that speaking English with an American or British accent is one’s personal choice and there’s nothing wrong with it if one aspires to do so!
Ironically, not everyone is happy about that either – I’ve been accused of being a hypocrite because I’m telling people on my English Harmony blog it’s fine to speak with a foreign accent yet at the same time I’m speaking like an American or Brit here on Accent Adventure…
It just goes to show you can’t please everyone and there will always be someone unhappy about what you’re doing! 😡
Anyways, today I decided to write this article to put the whole Fluency VS Foreign Accent myth to bed once and for all, so keep reading my friends foreigners – and also all native English speakers who happen to be reading my blog! 😉
Fluency = Native-like Pronunciation is a Logical Fallacy!
I’ve touched upon this subject many a time on my blogs, but please let me remind you once more why a lot of people define fluency with the ability to speak with a native-like pronunciation.
It’s all because of the fact that all native speakers, of course, do speak English with a native accent!
It’s a typical logical fallacy – to assume if A -> B, then only B -> A.
Here’s what it looks like:
Fluent speech (spoken by native speakers) -> native-like pronunciation
(Only) native-like pronunciation -> fluent speech
What proponents of this assumption always forget is that fluent speech can also be observed among foreign English speakers; moreover – more often than not, foreigners DO speak with a foreign accent! Fair enough, a lot of foreigners (I guess I wouldn’t be wrong in saying – the majority of foreigners) don’t speak in English fluently; yet it can’t be disputed that there are a lot of fluent speakers among them!
So, let’s stop beating around the bush and let me introduce Slavoj Žižek – a Slovene philosopher!
It’s Possible to Be MORE Fluent Than Native English Speakers While Speaking With Hard Foreign Accent!
I’m not going to waste too many words on explaining who the man is and what he does, let’s just listen to one of his many lectures and you’ll see for yourself why I chose him as a perfect example in order to illustrate my claim that it’s nothing unusual to speak with a hard foreign accent and be 100% fluent in English!
Now, what do you think, my friends?
Would you not call Slavoj Žižek a FULLY fluent English speaker?
I guess you’d have to mad not to!
He can debate the most complex philosophical and ethical issues as if he were talking about his trip to the shopping mall, and I seriously doubt if the average native English speaker would be capable of speaking as fluently as Slavoj Žižek does in the video above!
Well, all you have to do is enter his name in YouTube and watch a few of his videos (there’s LOADS of them – you can take my word for it!) to see how the man speaks in English about hundreds upon hundreds of different issues and problems.
He’s truly a living proof that it’s MORE than possible to speak in English 100% fluently while at the same time retaining a hard foreign accent, and I really don’t think this issue needs be debated for any longer here on my blogs.
It’s the final nail in the coffin of the myth about foreign accent being as a sure sign of lack of English fluency, so whenever I receive another question or a comment pertaining the same issue again, I’ll just forward this article onto that person to clearly illustrate why I think fluency doesn’t necessarily require total eradication of one’s foreign English accent.
Still Disagree? If So – You Must Be Talking Apples While I’m Talking Oranges!
In case you just don’t buy my arguments, here’s what I have to conclude.
Obviously we’re not on the same page when discussing the very concept of fluency.
For me FLUENCY means ability to express everything you can possibly be required to talk about. For me it’s not about how well it sounds.
For you FLUENCY probably means more than that; you probably think that being fluent in English by default includes mastery of English sounds and intonation and anything less than that simply doesn’t cut it!
If so, then we’re clearly talking about two different things – I’m talking about the effectiveness of communication, you’re talking about the overall feeling one gets from the speech. When you listen to a heavily accented speech, your emotional bias makes you perceive the speaker as not being fluent regardless of the effectiveness of communication!
If that’s the case – well, I guess I can’t MAKE you think differently, can I? 😀
Thanks for reading,