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Speaking With a Genuine Accent?


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When learning a language should you make speaking that language with a genuine accent one of your primary objectives?

It's relatively easy to pick up an accent if you are living amongst people who speak only the language you are learning but can be a lot harder if you aren't.

What do you think? Is a "foreign accent" fine as long you can fluently speak the language?

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I think it's really important to get the accent right from the get go, because a lot of times people learn the wrong way and then it becomes really hard to correct all the bad speaking habits later. When you speak a certain language, I feel that you should always strive to speak it with the particular accent. 

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I think it was last year or maybe the year before that I asked a similar question, which provoked very interesting responses. In my opinion, it's always good to try to learn the language as it's spoken. Obviously, this is not always easy because your mother tongue will influence how you speak any subsequent language you learn. I think it's especially difficult for those with heavy accents to adapt them to different languages, but the least you can do is try. Not only does that allow you to articulate your words better, it also makes it easier for others including the native speakers, to understand you better. The idea here isn't to change your own accent to the point of sounding fake, but rather to speak the language as it should to be understood LOL So for me it's a no-brainer, you simply have to give it your all.

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I really believe that in order to develop an accent you have to practice hundreds of hours speaking that way. It's not natural for you to speak with that accent, therefor it won't be easy and frankly, speaking with an accent isn't really important. People will always be able to tell you are a foreigner. I'd rather focus on mastering the grammar and the vocabulary of the language I am studying rather than focusing on developing an accent.

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In terms of accent, I think for some languages it is easier to imitate and for some it is harder. IMO, I think tonal languages are especially difficult to imitate as if you were to come into learning a tonal language without any background in it, it is very difficult to imitate the tonal accent that the natives have. 

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That's fine, just look at Penelope Cruz, she has a thick accent, yet she still was able to become a successful Hollywood actress. I think that as long as you can speak and understand the language fluently then you have all that you need to "get by" in a foreign country. In India, call centers are quite popular there even if the people there have thick Indian accent while they speak English.

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I think that accent doesn't really matter if you can speak the language fluently, as long as the native speaker can understand what you mean. Yeah, if you manage to speak a foreign language without an accent, you will have a better flow while talking. 

If you don't have a native speaker to practice your foreign language without an accent, you can always turn to music and television. Watch news, TV series and movies in foreign language. Your brain will pick up the native "accent" and you'll probably adapt that to your speech.

Another way of conquering the "accentless" language is thinking about the accent a person, whose native tongue is your foreign language, has when speaking your native language. I'm going to myself as an example. I've been told by native Russian speakers that I speak Russian almost without an accent. One of my Russian friend said I had a really light accent that was not so noticeable. Well, there are a lot of Estonian-speaking Russians living in Estonia and you can't help but notice that accent. Almost every single Estonian has imitated Russian accent. So whenever I speak Russian, I try to think about the accent that Russians have while speaking my native tongue and add it to the Russian I speak. I have to admit that I kind of had a Russian environment while learning Russian - the TV shows, Russian-speaking family friends and of course Russian music. 

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Learning the native accent is not as important as learning grammar and pronunciation, at least for most languages. Unless you're applying for a job that requires you to have a certain accent, it's better to focus on learning the fundamentals of the language than learning the accent at the same time. As it is, a lot of students are already complaining about complex grammar rules.

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I don't live in a country where people speak the language I'm trying to master, but I've managed to practice with myself so I can develop an accent and sound as natural as possible. Many people have asked me if I'm from the US, some other people think I'm from China, but it doesn't really affect me in any ways, even when I've worked really hard to get my own accent.

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