"You have nothing to hide from"

Whenever I hear of the word, accent, it reminds me of America. I always thought that you can only have an accent when you speak a different language. Just like me- I have a Vietnamese accent when I speak English. Until, one day I realized accents are how people speak the word and how it sound. There’s always a funny story of how people speak and I have one too. In Vietnam there are many different  ways to speak one word; every person speaks is differently. I was born in the South Vietnam and my friend were born in North Vietnam. It was clear that I thought the people in Vietnam sounds funny and I can't understand anything they say. Until one day when we were on the train, my friend Anh ask me “How come you don't speak standard Vietnamese?” I was surprised because that’s what I thought about the people who lived in the North. “The way you speak is so hard for me to understand especially some of the words that you’re saying” I responded.
The way we speak and how we pronounce the words are so different and sometime we have to repeat ourselves for each other to understand. We have a lot of common words however some of the word we speak were unfamiliar to each other. One day Anh told me to put my sock on. Instead of saying “doi” for sock he used the word “tat” for sock. For a second it was confuse me so much that I didn't understand what he was trying to say. Until he showed me a picture on google. I then realized even though we are speaking the same language there are always  something in our voice and and the way we use words, that are different from one another. As time passed we communicated with each other better. I also see the change in my voice and the way I use words. Sometime I speak with my family I would use a word from the North and the sound of my voice also changed. I have a little mix of both North and South accent and so is Anh. Both of our voice were change but not so much.
To be able to understand the difference between North and South vocabulary is really difficult. Imagine learning a whole new language. As James Baldwin states in “If black English isn’t a language, then tell me what is?”, “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate” In November 2005, I moved to America, at that point I’m completely new to this language. I was in third grade and didn’t know ABC’s. From the beginning English was really hard for me. When I don't understand what people say to me I would shake my head for everything. Speaking of shaking my head, I have a very funny story. When I was in third grade, we were in gym class waiting for the teacher to set up our station. I was sitting by myself and a group of students come over. I wasn’t sure if they were doing to be mean or to be funny but to me is very funny.
“Do you speak English?” the boys ask.
I shake my head.
“Do you eat?”
I shake my head again. They continued to ask me more question, but all I do is shake my head.
“Do you shower?”
I shake my head. The whole class start laughing at me as they cover their nose. I was confused but then the boy stood up rubbing his body and his eyes mocking me. Thats when I know what he was saying. He was asking me if I do I shower. Then I knocked my head and everyone was laughing.
English had alway been a struggle for me. I thought I’d never understand the English language. People always told me that I pronounced words wrong or that my accent was too thick for people to understand. They would laugh at me when I was struggling and I started to feel uncomfortable speaking English.
“My, can you read the second paragraph to the class?”
I was sitting in English class in fifth grade . I couldn't remember clearly what we were doing but I heard Ms.Rehn call my name and told me to read. My eyes went blank then I looked down at my paper, the words seemed like squiggles in a line. I started reading, the words stumbling in my mouth like rocks. A kid behind me started to laugh, and I read slower, embarrassed. Then, in mid sentence, I stopped at big word and tried to pronounce it “Currr-cir-cum-lum?" I attempted. I looked up and felt really embarrassed. That was the last time I ever raised my hand or speak in class. By the time I’m in high school my english teacher was Mr.Kay and he had change the way I feel about myself. He gave me the encouragement to speak in front of people. At first when he picked on me I felt very shy I would just sit there. He pushed me to answer the question that he asked. At the same time he didn’t push me so much to make me uncomfortable. As time went by I began to raise my hand in class instead of him calling me. In the middle of 9th grade I then began to feel more and more comfortable as I speak and share my culture to the whole class. I talk about my personal life, my culture, and things that happened in my life that I never though I can feel so comfortable sharing with people.
Now that I’m in my second year of high school. Attending a very diverse school was also one of the reasons that made me comfortable. I have a friend who are speaking the same language as me. I also have a friend who are also speak something that is totally different than me. I looked at them as a role model. I began to learn how to present in front of people. I speak loud and clear so people will understand even though I have an accent. I’m not ashamed of myself because of my Vietnamese accent and I’m no longer afraid to speak anymore because as Mr.Kay told me “You have nothing to hide from.”

Comments (1)

Chris Tran (Student 2015)
Chris Tran

Its a really nice story I can connect to your story because me and my friends have this type of conversation about out vietnamese accents as well. Nice Job! :)