Why do people have different accents?

Feb 4, 2018Blog

Georgie Harding

Speech Pathologist

In the first years of life we learn the sounds of our native language from our parents and those around us. We learn these sounds by watching, listening and copying.

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.

When we learn another language later on in life, it’s challenging for us to move our mouth to make the sounds – and this gives us an accent. In other words, our mouths get used to moving a certain way and this affects the way we make the sounds of the 2nd language.

For example, one area that is very difficult for English speakers is making the tones used in Asian languages.  As English is not a tonal language it is very challenging for us to [a] hear the different tones and [b] make the different tones.

With practice of course we can learn this but for most of us this takes a LOT of practice – with many misunderstandings along the way!

Why do people have different accents?

Research shows that when children under the age of 11 learn a new language they will most likely not have a foreign accent in their 2nd language.

For people who learn a second language after the age of 11 they are likely to have a foreign accent when they speak that language.

However there are always exceptions to the rule on this.

While it is definitely possible to neutralise and reduce a foreign accent, it is almost impossible for adults to get rid of their accent completely. There will usually be some sounds which give a detectable accent.

Many of our clients want to keep their accent – they just want to speak English that is very easy for listeners to understand. They want to speak professional English that is engaging and interesting to listen to.

Some of our clients are working to get rid of their accent. Our training will help them reduce their accent and neutralise it so they can sound more like a native speaker.

Whether your goal is to reduce your accent or to sound more like a native speaker and perfect your English accent – we can help you.

If you would like speak to a Speech Pathologist to discuss your goals and how our training can help you call Star Pronunciation on 1300 859 338.