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I hadn’t seen J-Ro for two weeks or so, and it’d seemed such a long time ago. She’d been in exam mode – mock and project presentation at the Uni, and real at the Official School of Languages. So, we reviewed on how she thought she fared. She felt very positive.

Some of the errors that stood out in our conversation:

  • other vs another
  • pass time with my children (instead of spend)
  • the next week (article) and
  • she said me (instead of told)
She also had some hard time wrestling with the sounds /es/, /eks/, and /ækts/, so we spent some time practising words such as act, acts, accept, accepts, access, checks, accent, accents, etc.
This leads to her saying that she’d adopted a ‘posh accent’ during her presentation, and that people (including examiners) think she speaks well (with this attempted posh accent). What can I say? To be honest, I agree. It’s almost as though they are so astounded to hear something they weren’t expecting, to the extent that grammatical errors are overlooked. On the other hand, if they hear English with a local (in foreign land) accent, they immediately register ‘oh-oh, speaks badly, bad pronunciation’.
I tried to explain to her that perhaps 40 or 50 years ago, accent was much more important, that, for example, BBC would only broadcast presenters with a RP accent. Not any more, I said. What is more important than accent is pronunciation. Mispronunciation may result in misunderstanding. Not so accent (though it always reminds me of the time when the English in the office I was working would ask me what the Scottish and the Irish were saying!).
I said that if she had good pronunciation, backed by proper construction, that’s far better than all the ‘posh’ accent she could master.

If you want to hear a US posh accent, try this: Phoebe with posh accent

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