I've been thinking about listening. About what it means when people say, "You have an ear for dialogue." I have been preoccupied with trying to capture my father's voice on paper for a very long time. (I worried that I was going about the process so poorly that I was creating a caricature, or worse, stealing a small part of his soul with a flash photo.) I might even use the word obsessed here. I'm fairly adept at imitating both my parents in person, I've been listening to their accented English all my life. It's an accent and rhythm I sometimes slip into when I'm speaking with them. When the writing is terrible, it sounds like hackneyed crap. I have even written out their English phonetically. Things like "Tank you" or "Tang you" for "Thank you"...WARNING: Do not try this at home. It will depress the hell out of you. I'll sum up by saying, I'm still chipping away at it.
My rambling-off-on-a-tangent point is that the Lose Your Accent classes are ridiculous. I find them annoying and absurd. I'm all for doing the best you can to make yourself understood, because there will always be at least one arsehole in the crowd who throws their hands up in the air and says they can't understand a single word coming out of your mouth. But what a boring world it would be without the multitude of accents; I love the lost vowels, the clipped endings, the inability to pronounce certain letter combinations. Variety is the spice of life. Add some garlic and now you're cooking with gas. In ESL classes, I tell students that pronunciation matters, of course, and help them practice the words they find exceedingly hard. I also remind them not to assume the fault is theirs alone. Listening is a remarkable skill, a lost art. When someone really listens to you, you feel respected, validated and worthy - this is an incredible gift to give anyone.
I recently came across this quote in an article about Christopher Eccleston: "...we shouldn't make a correlation between intellect and accent..."
Damn right. Couldn't have said it better myself.