Language learning and accents

Today we have a guest post by Jeff Foster.

Without a doubt, I am a language enthusiast. My goal is to become fluent in 3 languages by the time I graduate from high school. Those languages are Spanish, Italian, and Russian, in addition to English obviously. Using my Spanish class in school as a base of vocabulary and grammar structure, with Skype and other texts to enhance my overall knowledge. Combining all of these things has allowed me to gather a pretty good knowledge of the language. For Italian, I selected Rosetta Stone and I am thoroughly disappointed with it. While it does give you a good feel for accent, pronunciation, and very basic sentence structure, it lacks grammar, vocabulary, etc. For Russian, I am currently using Teach Yourself Russian, a book for learning Cyrillic and a few words.

Anyway, looking ahead to the future I would love to learn as many languages as possible, namely German, Scottish Gaelic, and possibly Arabic. I’ve had particular trouble with the accents. According to this article, accents can be acquired in a variety of ways. For example, my school advisor, after living in England for one year, many years ago, still carries a strong British accent. Many people make fun of him, saying that he fakes the accent.

What is your opinion? Is it possible for someone to somehow retain an accent, even long after leaving the country?

One thought on “Language learning and accents

  1. It is. But I think accents generally tend to be acquired when a person is very young and they change very slowly.

    As for me, I don’t worry to much about the accents lately although sometimes I would catch myself pretending to speak in one. Or perhaps it’s not even pretending at some point. But, I think, the idea is not to try to consciously speak in the accent and just let it go naturally.
    Take Russian, for example. While you are learning Russian, natives are definitely going to notice that you are not a native. But if you are not Russian, why pretend being one?

    Why not just speaking as you may (as long as you are understood). If you get enough speaking and listening practice your accent is going to change naturally and resemble that of the native speakers more. The point is, it gets better along with your language skills getting better.
    Don’t try too much to get your accent somehow “ahead” of your language skill. That’s not very useful.

    That’s what I’ve been thinking lately anyway.

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