Everyone has an accent. Everyone! Every. One.
When your accent isn’t the same as those you work and socialize with, it can sometimes make you feel less confident. Often the problem is not yours. (Biases—conscious and unconscious—are alive and well in Canada.) There are many speech factors that can impact how you’re heard: rate, expressiveness, articulatory precision. Many of them have nothing to do with accents. Still, for some of my clients it can really help to learn about the speech sounds and prosody of English to boost their communication confidence. We can do that together.
If you have a communication goal of gaining increased confidence and clarity, not a goal to sound like a native speaker of Canadian English, which is basically impossible, I can help you identify the specific features of your speech that can change and help you speak up and be heard. One-on-one or small group sessions can provide you with the tools to speak more confidently.
See an example of Accent Confidence here.
Remember, the problem is often not yours.
Where is your accent from?
Where are you from?
These are questions that can affect people in different ways. For some, it’s a welcome invitation to share information about their rich life experience. But for others—especially those who have been here for years—they are questions they’ve been asked so often that they instantly feel deflated. For yet others, it’s like a smack in the face, making them feel that they don’t belong in this country. I’ve heard from a lot of the latter. Sometimes it’s what brings them to me. They want to sound like they were born and raised in English Canada, just so they can stop getting these questions.
My job is to point out that they are not flawed. This country is.
Fight the urge to ask the question. You can’t know its impact. Where your conversation partner is from is something they may bring up if it’s relevant to the conversation and if they want to share it with you. Until then, think of other things to ask. You know, like those things you ask people who sound the same as you.