One of my lecturers (in TESOL!) asked me ‘why does your voice keep going up at the end like that? I can’t tell when you’re asking a question’ and then kind of smirked. This was in front of the whole class in the middle of a lecture. Super embarrassing and frustrating. English isn’t my first language and uptalk is something I’ve apparently adopted without realising.
‘I did not expect THAT!’ – Reaction over an American accent coming from an Asian girl.
‘How is your English so good?’ – Presumption that my native language can’t be English.
‘No, you ARE American’ – This guy started a fight over this, convinced he knew me better.
Because I sound so American, it always strikes me when people start correcting my English only after they find out I am not a native speaker and actually from South Asia. Seems I speak it ‘like a native’ but only till they figure out my passport. Then it’s a giveaway.
When I was 16 years old, I was an exchange student to Germany for a year. I’m American. One of the classes I was taking was English literature. It was early on in the school year, I didn’t know many people. The class was reading the Grapes of Wrath. The teacher was a non-native English speaker but spoke British English. One day we took turns reading from the book aloud. After I read, the teacher said, ‘Too bad you butchered it with your American accent’. It was Steinbeck! But at the time I didn’t stick up for myself.