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Languages and accents


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Do you find it easier to learn a language from someone that has an accent that matches the language you're trying to learn? For example, if you're learning English do you prefer the person you're learning from to have an English accent? Or would it not make much difference to you? 

I didn't think it would matter, and when I first began to learn Spanish I was learning from an English person. My accent in Spanish was then difficult to understand to native Spanish speakers. However, when I learned more Spanish from my friend that is Spanish I found my accent became better in Spanish too and therefore it was easier for me to be understood. I also found it easier to understand when Spanish people are talking to me (rather than English people speaking Spanish). 

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I think it doesn't matter how you learn the language or from who. What matters is that after you have a grasp on the basics you try to expose yourself to movies, audios or people who speak that language in the desired accent so that you can start to pick up on the proper pronunciation and accent. 

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I do, I love having someone teach me their language in their accent. It helps me with word pronunciation. When I hear their voice as they speak, I can listen to the patterns and different pitches in their voice as well. I like learning like this because it really helps me to organically understand and speak as if I was a natural in the language. 

Plus I want to identify as much as possible with the culture, I don't want to be speaking Spanish to someone and sound like an American still, I want to have the accent down as I speak. It makes me feel more fluent like that.

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It really depends on your teacher, my German instructor was not from Germany yet had a beautiful accent and I am sure that she could pass as a German while speaking over the phone to another German person. She actually recommended that I switched instructors once in a while so your ear is trained to hear slightly different accents and intonations. 

If you are learning Spanish, more reason to be exposed to all the different accents from all over Latin America and even the difference accents that exists inside Spain itself (they vary a lot).

What you say is very interesting because I am aware of a very weird phenomenon, I have observed this many times: it is easier for 2 people to communicate using a language that is the second language to both than it is to communicate with a native speaker of said language. How weird is that? If you are learning Spanish another person learning Spanish is more likely to understand you that a native Spanish speaker.

 

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I would ideally prefer to learn from a native speaker so as to really nail all aspects of my chosen foreign language. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter as long as my English tutor has a good grasp of the language. The only reason why I would always choose a native speaker over everybody else is because I went to state schools here and most of my English teachers over the years were people from my country, all of whom had strong accents very far removed from the correct pronunciation. So we ended up learning proper English, although our accents and pronunciation was off. I especially realised this when I went to live in England and started working in contact centres. Also, I compared the way my peers who went to private schools speak and they were taught to speak very well compared to kids in state schools. I made a concerted effort to sort of re-learn English in terms of my phrasing and all that, which came in very handy at work. 

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I think accent is something very important. In my school, I learned English from native speakers, so it was easier for me to copy and master the proper pronunciation. If you are taught English by someone with poor, or inaccurate pronunciation, chances are you will end up speaking just like them. Over time, you accent will get better with constant practice, and lots of determination. But make sure you are copying people who speak it correctly and with the right accent! One thing for sure is, it's better to speak English correctly, than with a perfect accent. So before you try to perfect your accent, make sure you know all the grammatical rules, and proper pronunciation. 

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I think it depends on how thick the accent was.  My mom has a couple of friends who are native speakers in Farsi.  It's a beautiful language and they were nice enough to teach small things like greetings and small words but two of them had heavy accents.  And it's not just my point of view.  One of her friends who speaks Farsi but he's from a different country originally teased them about their thick accents.  I find that when I'm just beginning, I prefer a cleaner accent to practice with until I understand how the language works and then I can upgrade to a more 'authentic' accent.  I think of accents as the icing on the cake.  For me, I don't mind having an American accent as long as it's clear what I'm saying and I'm saying it correctly. 

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I think it depends on how thick the accent was.  My mom has a couple of friends who are native speakers in Farsi.  It's a beautiful language and they were nice enough to teach small things like greetings and small words but two of them had heavy accents.  And it's not just my point of view.  One of her friends who speaks Farsi but he's from a different country originally teased them about their thick accents.  I find that when I'm just beginning, I prefer a cleaner accent to practice with until I understand how the language works and then I can upgrade to a more 'authentic' accent.  I think of accents as the icing on the cake.  For me, I don't mind having an American accent as long as it's clear what I'm saying and I'm saying it correctly. 

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I think it depends on how thick the accent was.  My mom has a couple of friends who are native speakers in Farsi.  It's a beautiful language and they were nice enough to teach small things like greetings and small words but two of them had heavy accents.  And it's not just my point of view.  One of her friends who speaks Farsi but he's from a different country originally teased them about their thick accents.  I find that when I'm just beginning, I prefer a cleaner accent to practice with until I understand how the language works and then I can upgrade to a more 'authentic' accent.  I think of accents as the icing on the cake.  For me, I don't mind having an American accent as long as it's clear what I'm saying and I'm saying it correctly. 

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5 hours ago, Rooks57 said:

 I find that when I'm just beginning, I prefer a cleaner accent to practice with until I understand how the language works and then I can upgrade to a more 'authentic' accent.

If you're going to learn a new language, it is best to learn the accent mostly accepted as the standard, and then to specialize in others. It is better for your training to begin with a solid foundation in the most common one and then train your hearing to identify the subtleties of the other accents, gradually.

Pretty good advice friend.

 

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I think I will always try to learn the language from a native speaker. It will help me develop native accent. When I learn from a person who is using the language as the second language, I will never learn spoken language, only the reading language. Only from native speakers, I will be able to learn communicative language

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I think that learning a specific language from a native speaker is the best way to learn a language but it's alright to learn about the basics from a non-native speaker. Once you learn the basic things about a specific language, it would then be easier to learn the proper pronunciation and accent from an expert or a native speaker. I consider learning the basics as the initial stage and learning the accent as the more advance stage.

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5 hours ago, gracerph said:

I think that learning a specific language from a native speaker is the best way to learn a language but it's alright to learn about the basics from a non-native speaker. Once you learn the basic things about a specific language, it would then be easier to learn the proper pronunciation and accent from an expert or a native speaker. I consider learning the basics as the initial stage and learning the accent as the more advance stage.

True. When you learn a language straight from the native speakers then you know you will be getting the best lessons accent wise. I think that would be the easiest way to learn any new language, and given a choice between being taught by a non-native speaker and a native speaker, I would always choose the latter. Unfortunately it's rare to be able to find a native speaker to teach you for every language that you want to learn. 

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I agree with you, Norm A....for me, the main value of learning the language from a native speaker would be for the accent. But, and it's a huge but, I would also be wary of learning from someone with a regional dialect with a very strong accent. Plus you'll find that native speakers don't always speak the most formal version of the language, that's why we have regional dialects. So for example, if I were learning English right now, I'd not only want a native speaker, they'd also have to have recognised formal qualifications. 

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20 hours ago, LeHolic said:

If you're going to learn a new language, it is best to learn the accent mostly accepted as the standard, and then to specialize in others. It is better for your training to begin with a solid foundation in the most common one and then train your hearing to identify the subtleties of the other accents, gradually.

Pretty good advice friend.

 

I've tried learning from people who have the authentic thick accents that are the most common and I can't hear them.  Not really, so I don't learn.  I had one Spanish teacher from Spain who spoke with a real accent and I regressed in my Spanish class because of him.  For me, a cleaner accent, even if it's not the most common works the best for me.  Because from the clean words, I can start to pick out words within the deep accents.  When it comes to speaking, I find I need to work from simple to more complex in both sound and structure otherwise I can't be understood because I slur the words in the attempt to make recreate the accent. 

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18 hours ago, Norm A said:

True. When you learn a language straight from the native speakers then you know you will be getting the best lessons accent wise. I think that would be the easiest way to learn any new language, and given a choice between being taught by a non-native speaker and a native speaker, I would always choose the latter. Unfortunately it's rare to be able to find a native speaker to teach you for every language that you want to learn. 

I agree with you. Unless one is willing to make the effort of going all the way to the country of origin of the language he/she wants to learn, it would be really hard to find native speakers of various languages in just one place. So I think the best option is to learn from a non-native speaker first if there's really no way of finding a native speaker and then opt for mastering the accent next after one has already learned the basics of the language he/she wants to study.

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I have a much easier time learning languages from countries with very similar accents to mine. I speak an asian language mainly so whenever I hear of specific words in other asian languages close to ours it's not very difficult for me to accurately copy the accent and because of that it also becomes a bit easier to learn everything else, though the amount of discipline required regardless of the similarities remains pretty much the same. On the other hand not all asian languages are as easy to transition to as there are still subtle differences between different classifications and categories, but I'd say it's at least easier than learning something way different like french or Russian. 

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On 28/07/2016 at 10:47 AM, lushlala said:

I would ideally prefer to learn from a native speaker so as to really nail all aspects of my chosen foreign language. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter as long as my English tutor has a good grasp of the language. The only reason why I would always choose a native speaker over everybody else is because I went to state schools here and most of my English teachers over the years were people from my country, all of whom had strong accents very far removed from the correct pronunciation. So we ended up learning proper English, although our accents and pronunciation was off. I especially realised this when I went to live in England and started working in contact centres. Also, I compared the way my peers who went to private schools speak and they were taught to speak very well compared to kids in state schools. I made a concerted effort to sort of re-learn English in terms of my phrasing and all that, which came in very handy at work. 

I agree that's how come they often recruit people to go and teach in other countries in their native language. I think it's very important to come into contact with native speakers, it can make a very big difference in the way you learn the language.

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@Lingua Franca.....what worries me about some of these recruiters though is that quite often they'll say just being a native speaker is enough, the only pre-requisite. Having lived in the UK for as long as I did, I'm a little wary of that because not everyone speaks formal and for lack of a better phrase, "internationally acceptable' English. Believe it or not, once I settled into my life in England and made many friends in the North, where there are many regional dialects, my friends would rib me for my "posh English". They would wind me up for speaking proper English, "the Queen's language". On many occasions, they'd even ask me what certain words meant because they wouldn't normally be part of their wider vocabulary. So I've always thought these recruiters need to be cautious with this sort of thing, because just because someone is a native speaker, doesn't mean they have a good grasp of the language as we know it on an international standard.

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On July 29, 2016 at 7:31 PM, Rooks57 said:

When it comes to speaking, I find I need to work from simple to more complex in both sound and structure. 

This is true. I guess it's just like with any other facet of life. You start from the basics and then advance on solid grounds.

In the case of language and accents, I guess it depends largely on the environment in which one is forced to learn. If you live in a community along with people with a certain accent, you have no other choice but to adapt. If -on the other hand- you have the opportunity to choose your own learning environment and tools, I completely agree with you since interacting with those who have a "cleaner" accent can be a great help in the beginning.

On July 31, 2016 at 6:58 AM, lushlala said:

just because someone is a native speaker, doesn't mean they have a good grasp of the language as we know it on an international standard.

Absolutely! I've interacted with people coming across as more knowledgeable in the language than a large chunk of natives. You'd never know English isn't their mother tongue if you didn't ask.

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