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Teachers 'should keep their regional accents'

11/01/2017 Joanna

A new study carried out by researchers at the University of Manchester has highlighted the importance of teachers maintaining their regional accents in the classroom.

In many instances, individuals up and down the country are modifying their accent to be closer to the Received Pronunciation (RP) norm that is expected of teachers across the profession.

However, the findings of researcher Alex Baratta have highlighted some perhaps surprising repercussions of teachers following this trend.

Based on the interview responses of teachers and pupils at schools in the area, the research showed that the accent of teachers is far more of an issue for the teacher themselves than it is for the children.

The research showed that teachers tend to believe that RP will help them to appear more authoritative and to avoid any issues of poor understanding among pupils. One female respondent also stated her belief that doing away with her accent helped her to be a "better role model" for the children in her charge.

However, when the pupils themselves were asked their opinion regarding accents, the results were very different. In these cases, pupils highlighted the importance of accepting people from different backgrounds and a belief that teachers can help to educate about diversity by maintaining their accent rather than attempting to modify it for school.

Indeed, Dr Baratta concluded: "For the current generation of British children, one's accent is clearly representative of who a person is. Therefore, a desire to keep it real is felt, amid the students' clear respect for diversity - in this case, linguistic diversity."

The only aspect of accents that the research showed was not acceptable for either teachers or students was the glottal stop - a type of consonantal sound used in many accents, which is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. In many cases, this relates to a dropping of the letter T.

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