Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

My English Voice is about building an identity in English, owning the language, speaking clearly, and being proud of your accent. We filmed eight people from around the world at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival talking about these topics. Watch the short videos below to hear their advice and experiences. Think about the reflection question with each video while you are watching. Then write your answer in the comments box below.

 

Be who you want to be, in any language

Emi Mahmoud, a Sudanese-American poet and activist, talks about accents, identity, and her experience of learning English when she arrived in the USA.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

Are there many different accents in your country? How do you feel about your accent in your first language?

Embrace your unique voice

Ellen van Neerven, an Australian writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage, talks about using speakers of Aboriginal languages to record audio books.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

Are there many different languages spoken in your country? What kinds of attitudes do people have towards minority languages in your country?

Focus on communication – don’t worry about mistakes

Wojciech Jagielski, a Polish journalist and author, talks about overcoming his fear of talking English.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

What do you find most difficult about speaking English? What has helped you to overcome this difficulty?

Accents give language richness and musicality

Dr Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib, a Pakistani social ecology scholar and writer, celebrates the diversity of  English accents around the world.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

Do you feel accents give language ‘richness and musicality’? What else do accents give to languages?

Focus on speaking clearly

Bella Laurencia, an Indonesian student and festival volunteer, talks about attitudes towards ‘correctness’ and the tendency to defer to varieties of English like British English.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

Do people in your country often try to change their accent when they learn English? How do you feel about your English accent?

 

Our accent is part of our identity

Mick Basa, a Filipino writer, educator, and Vice President of Education at the Malang Toastmasters Club, talks about the labels ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

How do you feel about the phases ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’? How do you describe yourself?

Be your truest self

Mitchell S. Jackson, an American writer who serves on the faculty of New York University and Columbia University, talks about finding a language that articulates who you believe yourself to be.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

Do you feel like you can ‘be yourself’ in English? Is your identity the same in English compared to when you speak your first language?

Think about your audience

Çiler İlhan, a Turkish writer and editor, talks about public speaking and how she tries to speak clearly.

Think about this question while you’re watching…

How do you try to speak clearly? What advice do you have for people who give presentations or lectures in English?

I’m looking forward to reading your answers!

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