A foreign accent is a clue to spot the student’s linguistic background and culture. Although some students have more difficulties than others getting rid of their accent, this is no reason why people studying Spanish should be obsessed by their accent because, among other reasons; accents are beautiful and make people unique, diverse and unforgettable. Accents have the magic power to generate a whole series of romantic, funny and inspiring sensations.

Spanish teachers are used to foreign accents and can easily spot the origin of their students by simply listening for a few seconds. The average amount of nationalities in a Spanish school is around 20, it’s amazing how experienced Spanish teachers can recognize at least a dozen of them, French, Japanese, German, Scandinavian, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and each accent triggers images or references… then, there are the intriguing unidentifiable accents…

We have interviewed some of our Spanish teachers at CLIC International House Sevilla on accents and their experiences.

 

Antonio

What accent do you first recognise?

I think it’s French for me (due to the close vocalisation, the tendency to speak with the mouth rounded and also to stress almost every word at the end, besides the guttural ’r’).

Also the students from North America, because of their vocalic relaxation, and how they use diphthongs: ou, ui…they also pronounce the sound “r” as if they were drunk.

And Italians: they aaaaalways leeengthen the stressed syyyyllable…

What are your favourites and what do they evoke in your mind?

I love Brazilian accent because it sounds like an invitation to dance and enjoy myself.

Anecdote:

When I started as a teacher, I had a group of American students and when it came to the time to introduce myself I said: ‘My name is Antonio and I am from Coria (a village near Sevilla), everyone seemed to be puzzled and I continued: ‘I don’t live in Seville, I come in every day from Coria’, which seemed to make the whole thing even more bizarre…after a while, I realized they understood Korea.

Have a look at the speech the teacher Antonio gave on pronounciation:

JUANDE

What accent do you first recognise?

The accent I first recognise is Spanish spoken by Americans, the pronunciation of the vowels is very distinct. There are some accents that can go unnoticed but this one is remarkable, especially when it comes to southern accents. I think this is very recognizable due to the amount of American movies we see.

What are your favourites and what do they evoke in your mind?

My favourite accent is Swedish, it conjures up fond memories. My first group of students were all Swedish. That rising melody is deeply installed in my mind and I inevitably associate it with a very important moment in my career.

Anecdote:

I still remember very clearly, the sad sensation on that fateful day 9/11.  One of my students defined the event as follows: ‘ha habido un accidente con los toros (meaning bulls, not towers, which is translated as “torre”) en Nueva York’ when in fact, it was one of the most dramatic events of recent history.

REYES

What accent do you first recognise?

At first, it is easy to recognise American, Italian and French. The rest are also recognizable but these three are very remarkable.  Italians lengthen the vowels and tend to speak louder. French normally stress the final stressed syllables making them easily recognisable and imitable. Americans in general, have a more nasal accent and most of them do not distinguish between ‘l’ and ‘ll’.

What are your favourites and what do they evoke in your mind?

I don’t have a favourite. Perhaps, I think more about the ones that are more difficult to understand, and those are, sometimes, the Americans.

Anecdote:

I don’t remember a specific one. What happens to me is that I don’t recognise proper nouns (for example: the English pronunciation for César, the Roman Emperor), cities, countries…

PIEDAD

What accent do you first recognise?

Italian. I love it because they sort of sing when they speak and lengthen the end of the words. I also recognise Dutch, they have a very particular and strong “j” sound.

What are your favourites and what do they evoke in your mind?

The American accent is my favourite. It reminds of the time I was teaching in South Virginia.

Anecdote:

Italian and French are very cinematographic for me.

ISABEL

What accent do you first recognise?

I recognise German first as they tend to put the verb at the end of the sentence.

What are your favourites and what do they evoke in your mind?

I love the French accent. I think it’s a very romantic language. Italian also, as this is very musical.

Anecdote: 

I remember I went to the Triana Market with some students. A very cute American boy had to order ‘una pieza de carne de ternera’ (a piece of veal) and instead of that he ordered ‘una pieza de carne de ternura’ (a piece of tender). So sweet!

 

Have you got anecdotes concerning your accent? please share with us!

Blanca Roters

Marketing, Clic IH

We recomend you to take a look at other contributions from Blanca to this blog.