I am not officially a Geordie as far as the rules go of being born in sight of the Tyne, my home town is 20 mins from Newcastle but on the Northumbria border, however I did grow up with a mild ‘Geordie’ accent. I say mild because my mother wouldn’t allow us to speak like some of my relatives who had much stronger accents/dialect. We said talk rhyming with walk, whereas they rhymed it with talc. Of course, I said whey aye and whey na and I divntna….. but my accent was softer and more restrained around my mam.

I was never aware of my accent or in particular my strong vowels till I moved to Spain to work as an au pair, my host was an English teacher and as I switched from Spanish to English, she burst out laughing and said how much deeper my voice sounded. That was the beginning of my awareness of my accent and that it wasn’t necessary a good thing.

Marrying my southerner husband, living in London, teaching in Kent , being surrounded by people, adults and children who openly laughed at the way I prounounced things meant that I changed the way I spoke, there are certain vowel sounds I cannot change and wouldn’t want to (book, poor, sure) but I have also found that I have lost the ability to form other sounds I grew up saying.

I now live in Germany and teach English in a secondary school. I am very aware of the need to be neutral for the sake of the students but I have had many discussions with German collegues about standard English pronunciation and grammar.

I have always been very proud of where I come from but my friends back home rib me for my posh accent.

I am angry that I was made to feel stupid for how I sounded and that I felt I had to change my accent to fit in and that there was and still is a perception of the ‘right’ English to speak. My daughter is even more annoyed as she loves Geordie accents, and wishes I still sounded like the rest of my family, she lays on her best northern vowels when her southern grandparents come to visit!