When you listen to someone speaking a foreign language, whether it’s yourself of someone else, you may notice that some aspects of the pronunciation and intonation are more exaggerated and seem to be quite effortful, especially if you compare them to a native speaker of the same language.
This struck me particularly when listening to the new recordings of Greenlandic phrases, which were made by a learner of Greenlandic from the Czech Republic, and then listening to a Greenlandic news broadcast on YouTube. The native speaker pronunciation seems to flow effortlessly, while the learner’s pronunciation seems more effortful. Having said that though, the uvular plosive /q/ and doubled consonants of Greenlandic do seem to interrupt the smooth flow somewhat, even in the native speakers.
When I first started learning Mandarin Chinese I was taught to pronounce each syllable clearly and separately with exaggerated tones. About five years later I was more of less fluent and didn’t distinguish the tones as much, except in careful, formal speech, and tended to run syllables together a bit, though perhaps not as much as native speakers.
With a lot of careful listening and practise, you can acquire good pronunciation in a foreign language. It does take time though, unless you’re a very good mimic.
Even in your native language there may be certain sounds that trip you up. For example the voiceless dental fricative /θ/ (as in three) did not exist in my original idiolect – a sort of modified RP with Lancastrian influences – and I didn’t know there was a difference in pronunciation between three and free until I learnt some phonetics at university. These days I tend to use /θ/, though it sometimes still requires conscious effort.