At the moment I’m writing an essay on the acquisition of foreign pronunciation. There seems to be a widespread belief that people who start learning a language at an early age are more likely to speak it with a native accent, while those who learn languages as adults tend to speak them with foreign accents. The essay is exploring whether this is true, and what factors contribute to the acquisition of native-like pronunciation.
While there’s plenty of evidence indicating that the younger you start learning a language, the more native-like your pronunciation will be, there are exceptions to this – some adults manage to acquire native-like pronunciation in foreign languages, while not all children do so. Other factors that seem important include the length of time you’ve spent in a country where the language is spoken, the amount of exposure you get to the language, how much you use your first language, whether you have a talent for oral mimicry, and how important it is for you to speak the language like a native. Other factors don’t seem to be as important.
In my case, I aim to speak languages with as little foreign accent as possible, and am reasonably successful in this. I think I have a good ear for languages, which might be related to my musical abilities, and am quite good at oral mimicry. I find that mimicking the way foreigners speak English and doing the same when I speak their language helps.
Do you speak an foreign languages with a native-like accent? What has helped you to do so.