What makes people have different accents?
Almost as soon as we are born we begin to be influenced by the sounds of our parents and others speaking our native language. As we get a little older we listen, watch and copy these sounds to start learning how to speak this language.
By their second birthday most children have become very good at making most of the sounds required to speak their native language and are becoming competent at joining the sounds together to form words.
By the age of 2 we are very good at making most of the sounds in our native language and we are good at joining these sounds together to make words.
Practise opening your mouth!
By the time we begin to learn other languages our mouths have become very used to moving in the specific ways required to speak our native languages. Unfortunately, these learned mouth movements also impact the way that we speak new languages and this gives us an accent.
There are, of course, always exceptions to this.
Research has demonstrated that children under the age of 11 are unlikely to have a foreign accent when they speak their second language whereas those over the age of 11 are likely to have a foreign accent. There are, of course, always exceptions to this.
A good example of this is when an adult native English speaker attempts to speak a tonal language such as an Asian language. English is not tonal so English speakers find it very difficult to both hear the correct tones and make them. It takes a lot of practice for English speakers to overcome this but they can get there in the end.
While it is possible to reduce a foreign accent, it is almost impossible for adults to neutralize their accent completely. Our courses focus on how to make you more easily understood by native English speakers by making your pronunciation clear rather than removing your accent completely. Most of our clients would never want to lose their accent, as this is an important part of their personality.
Whether your goal is to reduce your accent or to sound more like a native speaker – we can help you.
If you would like speak to us to discuss your goals and how our training can help you contact us.
Georgie Taylor – Speech Pathologist
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