It has been a while since the last post. I decided to pause my professional life while being on holidays.
I did not manage to keep this promise though. I read a dozen of articles on fluency to prepare for my poster presentation for the PanSIG conference. I kept reading blog posts from my favourites.
I have also been digging through the NNESts vs NESTs research. Currently, I am reading Nonnative Speaker English Teachers and Non-Native Educators in English Language Teaching, both edited by George Braine.
The fact that this topic is of great interest to me comes as no surprise since I am a so-called non-native speaker. I was born and raised in Russia, and I left my hometown to study in Scotland when I was 19. I have been learning English since I was 4, and I experienced a variety of learning contexts, e.g., public schools, private language centres, and summer schools in the U.K.
As far as I remember, I have always been concerned with my accent. Russian speakers of English generally have a negative representation in mass-culture “thanks” to Hollywood spy movies. Russians are evil, and they cannot speak “proper” English. This thick ridiculous accent of theirs causes nothing but laughter (and pain). You can probably imagine how hard I tried to acquire if not a “native” accent, but at least some neutral-ish accent that would not give a hint about my origin.
I succeeded. People struggle with identifying my background. I am often mistaken for an American (by Australians, English, and Japanese), or Scottish (by Americans), or English (by Russians). When I say that I am Russian, some of them cannot believe it. They say ‘but you do not sound like Russian at all! You have quite a neutral accent’. I did a pretty good job, did not I?
I am not so sure about it now.
My origin is an inevitable part of my identity, and I feel that by getting rid of my accent I have taken something significant away from myself. You can even say that I robbed myself.
It took time to realise.
There are still moments when I sound a bit more like Russian (a bit more like myself?). When I am tired, for example, or when I am excited and talk too fast. However, from now on I choose not to worry about it and accept it as a part of who I am.
I am a Russian teacher of English.