Native accents and identity

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle STI2D - Tle STMG - Tle ST2S - Tle STL | Thème(s) : Espaces et échanges
Type : Écrit LV1 | Année : 2018 | Académie : France métropolitaine

France métropolitaine • Juin 2018

Séries technologiques • LV1

Native accents and identity

document 1 Much more than just an accent

Star Wars actor Diego Luna did not hide his Mexican accent – and Latinos heard it loud

When the newest Star Wars movie1 came out in movie theaters, Perla Nation insisted on waiting to see it with her father, after the holidays. He was by no means a fan of the saga, and neither was she. But the 27-year-old from San Diego had a feeling the movie would resonate with her father, a landscaper who immigrated to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, in the early 1980s.

As they sat in the movie theater, the father and daughter watched as one of the main characters, an intelligence officer with the Alliance named Captain Cassian Andor, appeared on the screen.

Perla Nation’s father, Pablo Perez, nudged her as soon as he heard the actor, Diego Luna, speak.

“He has a heavy accent,” Perez uttered to his daughter.

After the movie, as they walked to their car, Perez turned to his daughter and said, once more, “Did you notice that he had an accent?”

“Yeah, Dad,” Nation responded, “just like yours.”

Having watched previous interviews with Diego Luna about his role in the movie, Perla Nation already knew the Mexican actor would be keeping his accent in the movie, she said in an interview with The Washington Post. She thought of her father, with his Mexican accent, and what seeing Luna’s performance could mean to him.

It wasn’t just that a Mexican was on screen, or even that an actor was speaking in a Mexican accent. It was the unexpectedness of the role. There was no particular reason Cassian was Mexican, or why he shouldn’t be. He just was.

When she was younger, attending a predominantly white school, Nation remembered feeling frustrated with her parents for not being able to speak English as clearly as her friends’ parents. As she grew older, Perla Nation said, she began to appreciate the difficulty of learning a second language, and realized how wrong she was “for thinking that this difference was a detriment.” Still, her father has always been self-conscious about his accent, and insists on speaking Spanish at home, even though he is fluent in English.

As Perez watched Diego Luna unabashedly speaking in his native accent on screen, “you could just see this huge smile on his face,” Perla Nation said.

From Samantha Schmidt,, January 5, 2017

1. The newest Star Wars movie: Rogue One released in 2016.

document 2 Getting a perfect accent, an accomplishment for a foreigner?

Ifemelu decided to stop faking an American accent on a sunlit day in July, the same day she met Blaine. It was convincing, the accent. She had perfected, from careful watching of friends and newscasters, the blurring of the t, the creamy roll of the r. It took an effort, the twisting of lip, the curling of tongue. If she were in a panic, or terrified, or jerked awake during a fire, she would not remember how to produce those American sounds. And so she resolved to stop, on that summer day, the weekend of Dike’s birthday. Her decision was prompted by a telemarketer’s call.

On that July morning, her weekend bag already packed for Massachusetts, she was making scrambled eggs when the phone rang. The caller ID showed “unknown” and she thought it might be a call from her parents in Nigeria. But it was a telemarketer, a young, male American who was offering better long-distance and internat­ional phone rates. She always hung up on telemarketers, but there was something about his voice that made her turn down the stove and hold on to the receiver.

Perhaps it was his first day on the job, his telephone piece poking uncomfortably in his ear while he half hoped that the people he was calling would not be home to pick up. Because she felt strangely sorry for him, she asked whether he had rates better than fiftyseven cents a minute to Nigeria.

“Hold on while I look up Nigeria,” he said, and she went back to stirring her eggs.

He came back and said his rates were the same, but wasn’t there another country that she called? Mexico? Canada?

“Well, I call London sometimes,” she said. Ginika was there for the summer.

“Okay, hold on while I look up France,” he said.

She burst out laughing.

“Something funny over there?” he asked.

She laughed harder. She had opened her mouth to tell him, bluntly, that what was funny was that he was selling international telephone rates and did not know where London was, but something held her back.

“May I ask who I’m talking to?”

“My name is Ifemelu.”

He repeated her name with exaggerated care. “Is it a French name?”

“No. Nigerian.”

“That where your family came from?”

“Yes.” She scooped the eggs onto a plate. “I grew up there.”

“Oh, really? How long have you been in the US?”

“Three years.”

“Wow. Cool. You sound totally American.”

“Thank you.”

Only after she hung up did she begin to feel the stain of a burgeoning shame spreading all over her, for thanking him, for craft­ing his words “You sound American” into a garland that she hung around her own neck. Why was it a compliment, an accomplishment, to sound American?

From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah, 2013.

compréhension 10 points

Documents 1 and 2

1 Choose the 2 major themes common to both documents. Copy the 2 correct answers onto your paper.

1. Speaking with an accent

2. Childhood memories

3. Difficult communication

4. Identity

5. Family relationships

Document 1

2 Copy the following sentences onto your paper and fill in the gaps with words taken from the text.

Perla Nation is ……….’s daughter. Her father comes from ………. (country), like ………. who is the actor playing the role of ………. in the 2016 Star Wars movie.

3 True or false? Answer the question and justify by quoting the text.

1. Perla and her father are great fans of all the Star Wars movies.

2. The actor plays in Star Wars with a Mexican accent.

3. Perla’s father feels uncomfortable about his accent.

4 Find the appropriate ending for the following sentence and justify with a quote from the text.

Perla wanted to see the newest Star Wars movie with her father because she thought that:

1. her father would be happy to spend time with her.

2. the movie would have an impact on her father.

3. her father had seen a lot of interviews about it.

5 1. How did Perla’s father react to the film? Choose the two appropriate adjectives from the list and copy them onto your paper. Justify your choices by quoting the text.

sad / happy / disappointed / angry / surprised / indifferent / bored

2. In your own words, explain why Perla’s father had such a reaction.

6 Compare what Perla thinks today to what she thought when she was a child. Match each sentence on the left with one element on the right.

1. I’m embarrassed when my parents speak English.

2. Having an accent is not a problem.

3. Being different makes life more difficult.

a) Perla when she was a child.

b) Perla today.

Document 2

7 Find information about the two main characters of the text. Use words from the text.

Copy the answers onto your paper.

Sex: Female

Name: Ifemelu

1) Country of origin: ……….

2) Country of residence: ……….

3) Time spent in the country of residence: ……….

Sex: Male

4) Job: ……….

5) Nationality: ……….

8 1. Why did Ifemelu answer the phone? Answer by quoting the text.

2. Why didn’t Ifemelu stop the conversation immediately?

Answer by quoting 2 elements from the text.

9 Choose the correct ending for the following sentences and justify by quoting the text.

1. Before the phone call, Ifemelu:

a) felt proud of her Nigerian accent.

b) thought her accent didn’t matter.

c) made efforts to sound American.

2. Ifemelu laughed because:

a) the telemarketer made a joke.

b) the telemarketer was bad at geography.

c) the telemarketer made her uncomfortable.

d) the telemarketer complimented her.

3. After the phone call, Ifemelu wondered if:

a) it had been a good idea to change her accent.

b) life in Nigeria was not better than in the US.

c) her accent really sounded American.

Documents 1 and 2

10 What could the two women say at the end of each text? Match each sentence on the left with one element on the right.

1. I changed my mind about accents.

2. Why did I work so much on my accent?

3. A celebrity with an accent can really make a difference.

a) Both Perla and Ifemelu

b) Only Perla Nation

c) Only Ifemelu

expression 10 points

Choose one of the following subjects (150 words)

1 You are Ryan or Victoria, preparing an article to be published on your school website for World Languages Day. You have met Maureen Kenyon, an international reporter who speaks 9 languages. She has told you about her motivations for learning languages, the obstacles she met, the situations in which she uses different languages, etc. Write your article about her.

2 You are a journalist called Amelia or Justin. You interview one of the following actors or actresses. You ask him / her about his / her motivation, efforts, doubts and possible consequences on his / her life. Write the conversation.

Name: Tom Spence

Nationality: Australian

Movie: An Unexpect­ed Wedding (romantic comedy)

For this movie, he:

lost 15 kilos.

had a plastic surgery operation on his nose.

Name: Anna Lee

Nationality: Canadian

Movie: Treasure in the Arctic (adventure film)

For this movie, she:

spent four months in the North Pole.

learnt to work with dogs.

Name: Tony Cruz

Nationality: American

Movie: Revenge (horror movie)

For this movie, he:

shaved his head.

lived with rats and spiders for 2 weeks.

Les clés du sujet

Document 1


Le Washington Post est un quotidien américain renommé, situé politiquement au centre-gauche, célèbre en particulier pour avoir révélé l’affaire du Watergate, qui a causé la démission du président Nixon en 1974.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Perla a amené son père, Pablo, immigrant mexicain, voir le film Star Wars, non pour les qualités du film, mais parce qu’un des acteurs principaux, lui-même mexicain, a gardé son accent d’origine. Elle sait qu’il sera particulièrement touché, lui qui est très attaché à sa langue maternelle.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Landscaper (l. 7) : paysagiste ; to nudge (l. 12) : donner un petit coup de coude ; utter (l. 14) : prononcer ; unexpectedness (l. 25) : l’aspect inattendu ; unabashedly (l. 36) : sans complexe.

Document 2


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977-) est nigériane. Partie à 19 ans suivre des études universitaires aux États-Unis, elle débute une carrière littéraire en 2003. Americanah est son quatrième roman.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Ifemelu, qui depuis trois ans qu’elle est installée aux États-Unis, cherche à s’intégrer en soignant particulièrement son accent, reçoit un coup de téléphone d’un opérateur de télé-marketing, qui la complimente sur son accent. Elle se demande alors pourquoi il est si important de perdre son accent nigérian, qui est le reflet de son identité.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To fake (l. 1) : simuler ; rates (l. 15) : tarifs ; to hang up on (l. 15) : raccrocher au nez de ; to hold on to the receiver (l. 17) : ne pas raccrocher ; look up (l. 23) chercher ; stain (l. 47) : tache ; shame (l. 48) : honte.

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes traitent de l’accent maternel comme marque d’une identité. Perla et Ifemelu vivent aux États-Unis et toutes deux cherchent d’abord à acquérir un accent américain parfait. Elles se rendent compte ensuite que c’est une inutile perte d’identité.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Une direction possible

Parler tant de langues implique un don. Ces connaissances lui permettent de travailler dans un grand nombre de pays et d’interviewer des gens qui ne connaissent que leur langue maternelle. C’est un atout important dans le journalisme international, qui lui permet de se différencier des autres journalistes.

Key ideas

Knowing so many languages is a great help for an international reporter. The more you know a country’s language, the better you can communicate with its people. You can interview local people who can only speak their native language. You have to have a gift for languages. It can make a differ­ence with other reporters.

Le sujet d’expression 2

Une direction possible

Ces trois personnes ont accepté des épreuves difficiles pour obtenir ces rôles. L’interview devra donc leur faire expliquer en quoi leurs motivations professionnelles – ou personnelles – sont déterminantes. C’est probablement après mûre réflexion que la décision aura été prise, et on peut imaginer que le succès du film aura été le but et la récompense de ces sacrifices.

Key ideas

When you think the part is worth it, you do it. The role of my life. I have thought that over. My fans admire what I did. It boosts my career.