School-University Partnership Initiative (SUPI)


Will the real me please stand up? Investigating the relationship between accent and identity

I would give a talk on my research area, and ask groups to conduct their own research about accent modification and identity or more broadly, sociolinguistic topics in general (e.g. investigating taboo words’ use). In small groups they would interview each other, make posters and reported their findings. Posters would then be created and left at the schools.

Learning objectives/session outcomes

  • To consider the role that accent plays in shaping one’s sense of self, to include the implications to personal identity if one modifies his/her accent (e.g. phone voice).
  • To probe societal attitudes to accents, to include the rationale for accent modification in the first instance – why do people still feel the need to do this? What do the students think?
  • To allow students to confront their own accentism, perhaps seeking ways we can get beyond this in a society which is striving to be more egalitarian.
  • To allow students to consider how their attitudes toward various British accents might differ from that of their parents, as research (Coupland and Bishop, 2007) suggests that the current generation are not as hostile perhaps to regional accents.
  • To allow students to hopefully celebrate accent diversity.
  • To inspire students to consider attending university, and develop practical research skills.

Intended age group/Key Stage

Key Stage 4 or 5

Subject/Curriculum links

The subject links with the curriculum of English students broadly, who are studying language from various aspects.

Flexibility

Accent and identity is an accessible subject to begin with (e.g. society is aware of this subject, for example, based on class-related issues regarding accent, and media stereotyping). As such, this allows audiences of a wide age range to have something to say on the matter and consider the theoretical issues, albeit the need to adjust the theoretical content for younger audiences (i.e. primary school level).

Practicalities

The project can run several times, either as a one-day session or spread across several days within, say, a month, to include continuing the collaborations into the future.

Researcher

Dr Alex Baratta, Lecturer in Education. Email alex.baratta@manchester.ac.uk for further information

Research profile: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/alex.baratta/