Being mistaken for a local is seen by many language learners as the ultimate in being fluent in their target language. This involves learning not just the language but the accent to go with it.

It’s not just language learners who want to ‘perfect’ their accent though – apparently there’s a rise in the number of British people taking elocution lessons. Many feel that their regional accent is holding them back in the workplace or hindering getting a job.

In what we like to think of as an increasingly classless society, and at a time when the distinctive regional accents are gradually being melded and lost, it seems a shame that there are so many people anxious to lose their accents. “I get a lot of requests from people looking to reduce their regional accents, Midwinter says. “I think as long as people speak clearly, if they have an accent, that’s OK, as long as they can be understood. But there are times when a voice with less of an accent might be an advantage, for example at an interview, or if you are speaking to a large group of people, when it helps to have a voice that is loud and clear. Most people have very specific needs that they want to correct. Very few come to me and say, ‘I want to speak like the Queen.’” (Source: The Independent)

I have the opposite issue – being the lone southerner in an office full of northerners I often wish that my accent was from somewhere else! The Yorkshire-born people I work with seem particularly proud of their accents, and I can’t imagine them taking elocution lessons. We should celebrate this diversity!