Regional accents are OK for teaching but not too regional: A discussion of accent preference in British teaching

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Abstract

Accent can still be a contentious topic in Britain, with accent-based preference, if not prejudice, in turn reflecting class-based prejudice. Thus, accent in Britain often functions as a linguistic proxy for class and as such, negativity ascribed to accents judged to be working class still exists. This paper reflects the views of two British teachers from a larger sample within the primary and secondary sectors of teaching, seeking to better understand the role that accent plays in the British teaching profession. In doing so, it addresses the central question: what are the implications for teachers with broad accents in a profession that champions equality, yet set against the societal reality of accent-based prejudice? From these two teachers’ accounts, the results show that accents perceived as broad and/or too ‘regional’ are those which are targeted for modification by senior staff. However, the two teachers have different attitudes, with one agreeing to the modification, and the other in complete disagreement. From these two accounts, we can glean an insight, however small, into the role that accent plays in one’s professional identity as a teacher, in a country where accent continues to be of particular relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th international conference on English Pronunciation: Issues and Practices.
PublisherUniversité Grenoble-Alpes
Pages1-10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2023

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