Will I ever sound like a native speaker?

Will I ever sound like an English, an American or any other native speaker of the English language? All of us have admired people who speak a foreign language so well that we are certain that there is absolutely no way that English is not their mother tongue or that they have at least lived for a long time in that country. Especially the moment we hear them speak, we feel so bad about our accent that we just prefer to disappear from the face of the earth than speak this language. The ultimate moment of absolute embarrassment and definite denial to open our mouth though, comes when it is time to travel or find ourselves in a circle of people who all have a perfect accent.

Mmmm… The fear that people will judge us leads us to just listen to others during a conversation or be around people with the same level in the language as us. What do we achieve like that? Either to diminish the time that we have the chance to speak or not improve at all.

Here are some tips to help us ameliorate our foreign accent:

  1. By observing the body language.

This is probably the strongest form of communication between people. Facial expressions, gestures, looks and our posture precede the words that we will use. This happens always and everywhere, regardless of the spoken language.

If we are interested in acquiring the closest possible accent to a native speaker of a language, then it would be extremely useful to study the non-verbal way of expression of that people through body language. If it is not possible to hang out with them in order to take notice of that then we can always get ideas through movies. How do the speakers of this language react when they express admiration? Frustration? Sadness? Love? Compassion?

If we pay attention to all that, along with the interjections that follow, we are already one step closer to getting their accent. It may sound really weird but it is true!

  1. By focusing on the language itself every time we hear it.

Whenever we hear a person speaking that language, it is vital that we pay attention so that we can discern how every day words and phrases are pronounced compared to the way we thought they were pronounced. Which words sound as if they are united to each other? How many words clearly sound alone in a sentence? Which letters sound exactly as we learn them inside the alphabet? Which others sound completely different, especially when found in a word?

A very simple way to keep all that in mind is that every time we are given the chance, to write down the specific word or phrase and next to it, to write in our native language exactly the way it sounds to our ears. Last but not least, another helpful trick is to form groups of words which sound the same and read them out loud, not all the different groups together at once, but each day to read aloud the words which belong to one group.

  1. By learning a big number of linking words and phrases.

In every language there are connecting words and short phrases which may not add a critical meaning throughout the conversation but mainly connect the basic ideas together. By learning these phrases, even if by copying them from conversations that we hear, we come one step closer to acquiring fluency.

Some of them, for example in English, are:

▪ “Right”, “Well”, “So” when we want to continue the dialogue.

▪ “Right”, “I see”, “I get it” to show that we understand what the other speaker is saying.

The best practice would be of course to have a native speaker, so we can also try this through specific online sites or applications offering us exactly this opportunity.

  1. By making a list of useful everyday vocabulary.

Daily conversations usually have to do with the same topics, such as what’s the weather like, how is work, if our family members are ok, if we have any hobbies and maybe how was our last weekend. The words used here keep repeating and are fairly simple.

This often comes in contrast with a more complex vocabulary that we encounter while learning a foreign language, that is after overcoming the elementary level of course. That’s why really often, when we talk to a native speaker, sometimes he or she are looking at us at a strange way because we tend to use, even if it is with pride, too official words and expressions that we have learned after so much effort. That is natural, of course since the vocabulary written in books can never keep up with the spoken language which always involves.

Let’s not hesitate to “steal” some daily words and phrases often used and that will definitely offer us greater fluency.

Before finishing, I would like to suggest some food for thought over here. How sure are we that we do want to copy a native speaker’s accent? Why is it a bad thing for the other person to understand that this is not our native language, yet we had the will and determination to learn a second language. The most important thing is to pronounce each word correctly so that the other person understands what we are saying. Don’t forget that a foreign accent alone, can arouse the interest and lead to an amazing conversation with others!

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3 Responses

  1. Hello my inspirational teacher! You are the best influencer,home-land person I have ever met !

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