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That’s the question asked by Professor Joseph L. Mbele, who is from Tanzania but teaches English at St. Olaf College in Minnesota (USA).
The answer is yes. Everyone has an accent. I have an accent when I speak Chinese or Japanese, but I also have an accent when I speak English. The way you speak even your native language is determined by your family, where you grow up, your education, etc. I speak American English, of course, but my speaking is affected by my Californian parents, my Midwestern relatives, being raised in the South, and so forth.
Professor Mbele also asks this:
Why should someone with a proper Nigerian or Ugandan accent be pressured to speak like an American? Why should someone with a proper Jamaican or British accent be pressured to speak like an American? In Africa, no one asks foreigners to speak English like Africans: the British speak with their own accent; so do the Indians, the Australians and others.
You can read “Do You Have an Accent?” at The African News Journal. I highly recommend reading it yourself.
Anyway, happy New Year!
Recently I started using a new textbook with someone I’m tutoring. When I looked up the book’s website, I found out that the publisher (Cambridge) has put lots of free games online. You can practice with these games even if you don’t have the book, or to decide if you’d like to buy the book (naturally, the books are not free!). Although Cambridge is a British publisher, they publish both British English and North American English books. They’ve created a huge database of real North American English language in use, and many of their newer books are based on this source. The language in these books is more authentic and more useful because it’s based on the way people actually talk and write.
- This is the Level 1 book in the series I’m using with my student now:
To play the games, go to the Interchange Arcade. Choose your level from the left. Then click on Unit or Sort by Activity, and choose what you want to practice. The games are simple, but have good graphics and sound. You can practice grammar, listening comprehension, and more.
- Touchstone is another series from Cambridge:
You can try out the Touchstone Arcade. Again, pick your level of difficulty (1-4), and then try the activities. They even have some good listening/pronunciation activities, such as choosing which vowel in a word is silent. There’s a “Report” button that lets you see your progress.
- I haven’t used the Connect series with any students, because it’s for kids. But if you know a younger learner of English, maybe he or she would enjoy the Connect Arcade.
- Another book I use is Business Vocabulary in Use. It includes both American and British English, and is meant for self-study (so you can use it on your own). If you use English in your career, I really recommend these books. There are three levels. There’s no game site, which is too bad, because I think businesspeople like to play games, too! Oh, well. The activities in the books are creative and interesting, so give the series a try. Right now, I’m using the Intermediate book:
If you have a recent English textbook or dictionary from a major publisher, try looking up the title on the publisher’s website. You might find free downloadable worksheets, games, etc. These games are a nice change of pace from using a book all the time!