Yes! Great story, and an important perspective.

I am an English teacher and it’s very common for my students to come to me and ask me to help them to “lose” their accent. I always tell them that you can *change* your accent, but you can’t get rid of it. Everyone has an accent.

I also have explained this to the language schools that ask teachers to “correct” pronunciation. Sure, people have to understand the words you’re speaking. But what does it mean to have “correct” pronunciation in English? I don’t think there is such a thing.

I think part of the problem is that when we teach English in school, we talk about the grammar rules you must follow, the correct way to use punctuation, and how spelling is right or wrong. But actually, these things vary from place to place. There are over 50 countries that have English as an official or dominant language. What’s “wrong” in one place is perfectly fine in another.

I think we might benefit from thinking about English not as one thing that you can do “right” or “wrong”. More like an art, like painting, than like math. There’s not really a “right” way to do it; we can all have different styles.

Great article, I’m saving it!

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Ramsay is a researcher, educator, and writer (crisptext.ca) based in Brazil. When not writing, you can find him cycling or looking for his keys.

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