Focus on Context and Content

When I started my graduate studies, it was quite tough for me to participate in discussion with my colleagues especially during the first couple of semesters. The most serious aspect that was bothering me was my accent because all my colleagues were native speakers. After experiencing this situation, I worked to change my accent during the first semester. That was not a good time because I was just beginning my program and it diverted my focus from actual studies. I did not realize how much time I could use working on my accent, and I could have spent that time on my courses. I observed that in my attempts to speak in a more American accent, I was actually less easy to communicate with than I was when I used my own accent. Then I consulted with my advisor and my English teacher about this. They both told me that I should have focused on the content of my speech and context of the words that I spoke instead of my accent. In the United States, people focus more on the content of speech and generally respect non-native speakers. Therefore, understanding your content and the context of the sentence is more important that trying to copy a native accent. After that, I focused my time on understanding the content and context of my communication, which saved a lot of time and made me more attentive to my actual work. It is important to mention, being an international student, it is extremely important to understand the context of a word and respect it because it may substantially alter that word’s meaning. We may face several challenges to understanding and interpreting some words because we usually come from a different background. Therefore, it is essential to consult with our professors or native speaker colleagues, who can help us.

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