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Old 06-09-2011, 03:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Uncomfortable around people because I have accent

Hi,
I am an Asian Indian living here in USA. I don't have any american friends although i have been here for 4 years. One of the reasons I feel uncomfortable and embarrassed around people here is because of my Indian accent. Everytime I am around fluent English speakers, I tend to think they are judging me based on how I speak. Do u think I think so much because of my anxiety or do people really judge based on their accents? Also, I feel embarrassed when people don't understand what I m saying and ask me to repeat it over and over. Do u think it's hard to understand Indian accent?
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I am in the same exact situation, I'm an international student in the US and I have been in here for 4 years as well. I have an accent so I tend to avoid talking in public, like ordering food at a restaurant or anything like that. I understand how you feel, it is a pain when you are a foreigner, I dont have any friends either, the only people I feel comfortable talking to are international people. No matter how thick your accent is, it would still be understandeable, and those people who ask you to repeat yourself are usually a**holes and/or racist. So please don't judge yourself harshly. You can talk 2 languages, while they can't even say one word in yours. You should feel proud of yourself not ashamed
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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I'm American and personally I think accents are really cool, often sexy providing it's a female haha. Although even when a guy has an accent it sounds sexy sometimes (not gay). I think you're probably projecting your thoughts into other people's head, I don't think people dislike accents at all.

I think it's highly unlikely people are judging you based on your accent or even english skills. I think that's irrational, but that's what social anxiety does. I guess i'd advocate trying to change your thought pattern about this subject, distract yourself from this thought that has grown in power by the day. The more you think your accent is a burden the more it is ingrained in your head, try to change your own mind about this.
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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My parents grew up in a time with very few non-anglo immigrants and they have trouble understanding accents.

I grew up in a suburb that housed people from a majority of the world's countries and I can't remember the last time I couldn't understand an accent.

If the place were you live has very little foreigners, your accent is going to throw people off. But if there's enough diversity around try talking to the younger crowd as they'll probably have grown up hearing accents and will understand many different types.
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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I've been in the same situation. I can't accurately figure out how much of a problem my accent is these days. I suspect my mumbling is more of a problem now.

As Misanthropic79 said a person's ability to understand an accent depends on the level of exposure to that accent. So you will get quite a few people in the west who won't understand you. But over time as you settle in your accent will change and concurrently people -especially people who frequently end up chatting to you - will start to adapt to your accent. This will take a while, so in the mean time you are going to have to work on the negative thoughts that pop up in your head about your accent.

The vast majority of people who ask you to repeat what you've said aren't trying to be mean. They could just ignore your or smile or give a vague response and stop talking to you, but instead they are making an effort to keep the conversation going by asking you to repeat what you've said. As for a practical tip, if you've repeated yourself twice and they still don't understand you, try rephrasing using different words. They may understand your pronounciation of this alternative sentence much better. If you have to draw a picture to get the meaning across, then I say do it. People, in general, won't think any less of you for it. The proof, I reckon, will be if they continue talking to you (after you've resolved the miscommunication) until the conversation reaches it's natural end.
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I'm American and I admire anyone who is able to speak a second language. Pro-job on moving to another country there no one speaks your native language. I've always wanted to do something like that and plan on accomplishing this some day.

You can't get around the fact that people do judge you by your accent, just as likely as by skin color, or the clothing that you wear. Things that people can pickup with their senses they will end up making a judgement. How critical that judgment is depends on the person. The best that I recommend to you is accepting the idea that you're being judge and dismiss the irrational judgement as irrelevant.

You can't help the person you're talking to has had a low level of exposure to the accent. You can't help their limitations of understand you. These things are out of your control. What is under your control are how you feel about the interaction. They may judge you but that judgement is irrelevant to your feelings because they're not inside your head. You're in control of how you feel.

As for repeating yourself, yeah there are some as*holes out there that will do that. I work with a latino woman and she has a strong spanish accent and I ask her to repeat sometimes too. I definitely don't mean to do it to make it difficult for her. It's just difficult for me to understand her sometimes and asking her to say it over again is kind of like a reflex. It just happens.

Regardless, I admire both you and her for learning a second language, and moving out of your home land to some place completely foreign. A lot of Americans wouldn't do that because it would be too difficult. Thanks for staying here for 4 years and putting up with some of the as*holes we have living here. Please don't let their actions speak for all of us.
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Don't be uncomfortable. As far as I know, most people find accents charming and interesting. I have an accent and I don't sweat it.
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Same here. When i got here 7 years ago I was not really accustomed to the life in here, I came from Mexico and( My parents Migrated to this country in their early teens and luckily it was easier to get papers back then) I have never gotten used to the way that some folks live here tho, for me personally people who are born here are too materialistic(not everyone of course). When i first integrated myself in school i couldn't speak the English Language at all, after 5 years passed I could write it and pronounce it very well, but the funny thing is that I still cannot speak coherently without using a certain kind of Mexican "accent", but in reality I can speak it really well, it's like a complete blockade between my mind and strangers who I've never met, it pisses me off.
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