Pronunciation vs. Communication in the English Language

Much has been said about the pronunciation of the English language. Should students be worried about acquiring a native-like accent? Should they pay attention to very specific sounds and try to reproduce them just like an American or a British person does? I believe the answer is to focus on communication first, and polish their English as practice takes place.

As I did some research on the matter, I found some reading that said that native speakers might find speakers with a strong accent difficult to understand. This is an interesting point indeed, and I do believe students must be guided into a kind of pronunciation that is not heavily influenced by their mother tongue to facilitate communication.

However, another point must be taken into consideration: Globalization. English is definitely the language that most people around the world use to communication with one another, all of them have different linguistic backgrounds that will influence their pronunciation somehow. Should all of them try to have one single accent when speaking English to facilitate conversations with native speakers?

The answer might just lie in the middle. Students must work to achieve speaking skills in a way that is not so affected by their mother tongue, so not only native speakers, but also other English speakers can understand them more easily. At the same time, native speakers could also learn how to be more receptive to different types of pronunciation, especially if they must deal with foreigners on a frequent basis.

In essence, I don’t think it’s fair to ask students to adapt their pronunciation and accent entirely, as listeners might just as well learn to be more receptive. Both sides working together might lead to efficient communication, which should always be the main goal.

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