Why Is My Accent So Bad?

Ranger
Posts347Likes 189Joined 13/7/2018LocationPasig / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, French, Spanish

Here is an excerpt from Ann Cook's ebook, American Accent Training. I use it every time people get discouraged in my accent training classes. (I've done a lot of training in the outsourcing industry and Anne Cook is a classic resource. For a whole decade, many companies thought that you have to really sound American if you were going to work the phones. Thank goodness that's no longer true these days.)


~~~~~


Why Is My Accent So Bad?


Learners can be seriously hampered by a negative outlook, so I'll address this very important point early. First, your accent is not "bad," it is nonstandard to the American ear. There is a joke that goes: What do you call a person who can speak three languages? Tri-lingual. What do you call a person who can speak two languages? Bilingual. What do you call a person who can only speak one language? American.


Every language is equally valid or good, so every accent is good. The average American, however, truly does have a hard time understanding nonstandard accent. George Bernard Shaw said that the English and Americans are two people divided by the same language!


Some students learn to over-pronounce English because they naturally want to say the word as it is written. Too often an English teacher may allow this, perhaps thinking that colloquial American English is unsophisticated, unrefined or even incorrect. Not so at all! Just as you don't say the T in listen, the TT in better is pronounced D, bedder. Any other pronunciation will sound foreign, strange, wrong or different to a native speaker.


~~~~

Posted
1
#1
Dwarf
Posts50Likes 43Joined 3/9/2018LocationManila / PH
Native
English, Tagalog
Other French, Spanish

I totally agree with the article above! Accents makes us unique and sets a clear distinction of our roots and culture. Though sadly, there are still some that make it as a basis of intelligence aside from speaking perfect English.

Aleks

Posted
0
#2
Ranger
Posts347Likes 189Joined 13/7/2018LocationPasig / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, French, Spanish

Well, to be fair, I think the people you're referring to grew up in a culture of blame, ridicule, chastisement and tribalism. These days, when I meet someone who judges another person by their accent in the way you described, I whip out my mobile phone and show them a YouTube video of a bunch of gorgeous European guys speaking in perfect Bisaya. He he he. El hábito no hace al monje.

Posted
1
#3
Elf
Posts125Likes 95Joined 3/9/2018LocationSkopje / MK
Native
Macedonian
Other Arabic - Gulf, English, French, Spanish, Serbian

HI! People that usually nail accents are good at music too, meaning they/we simply have the ear for it. Not everyone is adept at that, nor should everyone be. I agree it gives certain distinguishable flavor. 


I must say I often laugh at people who totally miss the accent, simply because it sounds so funny to my ears, to me! But never would I ridicule the person in totality for not being able ti acquire the accent. In the end, I am grateful I had a good laugh thanks to them! Most frankly. And many times people feel this in me and do not mind me laughing my heart out. However, I can't speak to a person who is even under elementary knowledge of the English language. I have studied the language profoundly, it was my job to know it very well, so I just can't have casual chat with someone who makes lots of mistakes. I simply can't relax and have the need to correct him/her. I myself also have the need to be corrected by native speakers as much as possible and sometimes even ask for it obsessively. :))

The accent on the other hand, I adore. I simply love how/when people bring their own sound, it's really only the accent that makes us capable of speaking Indian-English; Russian-English; etc. So I never deduct a conclusion for the person or judge him/her based on their funny accent. I simply love it, how unique we all are. 


People who have the ear for music, hence able to catch on accents too, also easily learn and absorb languages. Ear and musicality can be practiced and developed though too, so it's never an end if you have trouble matching an accent. You can always try some notes on the octave to see how tuned you are, before you move on to the lesson :) 


Edited
2
#4
Hobbit
Posts24Likes 7Joined 5/9/2018Locationmaryland / US
Native
Urdu
Learning Arabic - Gulf

Accent doesnt matter

 What matter is your grammar. People with good accent dont know the grammer

Mariam Irshad

Posted
0
#5
Ent
Posts760Likes 466Joined 18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Korean
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Khadija2017 wrote:
Accent doesnt matter
What matter is your grammar. People with good accent dont know the grammer

Please cite this

Signature

Posted
0
#6
Elf
Posts114Likes 78Joined 8/10/2018LocationPH
Native
English, Tagalog
Learning Japanese

The point of a language is to be understood. If you have that down then I don't think accent matters that much. But if you really want to improve your accent maybe this might help:



Edited
1
#7
Ent
Posts760Likes 466Joined 18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Korean
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Mel.Palogan wrote:
The point of a language is to be understood.

Imo, it goes beyond that. You don't want to make your interlocutor work hard to understand you or get annoyed, for example. 

Signature

Edited
0
#8
Ranger
Posts298Likes 165Joined 11/7/2018LocationManila / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, Korean

Mel.Palogan wrote:
The point of a language is to be understood. If you have that down then I don't think accent matters that much. But if you really want to improve your accent maybe this might help:


I agree. The point of communication is to be understood -- not to sound like a native speaker. However, if you have a very heavy regional accent, then it's harder for the person you're speaking to to understand you. 



So the accent matters. You don't have to sound like a native speaker but you have to be able to speak with an accent that's easy to understand.

--

ikay

Posted
0
#9
Elf
Posts111Likes 96Joined 4/10/2018Location
Native
Chinese - Mandarin, English, Chinese - Cantonese
Other French, Indonesian, Russian, Thai, Vietnamese

I like the idea of divorcing value-judgment from accents, as suggested by the writer, who uses the term "nonstandard". 

Posted
0
#10
Ranger
Posts230Likes 120Joined 16/9/2018Location
Native
Spanish
Other English, Italian

Phillip.Laplana wrote:

Here is an excerpt from Ann Cook's ebook, American Accent Training. I use it every time people get discouraged in my accent training classes. (I've done a lot of training in the outsourcing industry and Anne Cook is a classic resource. For a whole decade, many companies thought that you have to really sound American if you were going to work the phones. Thank goodness that's no longer true these days.)

~~~~~

Why Is My Accent So Bad?

Learners can be seriously hampered by a negative outlook, so I'll address this very important point early. First, your accent is not "bad," it is nonstandard to the American ear. There is a joke that goes: What do you call a person who can speak three languages? Tri-lingual. What do you call a person who can speak two languages? Bilingual. What do you call a person who can only speak one language? American.

Every language is equally valid or good, so every accent is good. The average American, however, truly does have a hard time understanding nonstandard accent. George Bernard Shaw said that the English and Americans are two people divided by the same language!

Some students learn to over-pronounce English because they naturally want to say the word as it is written. Too often an English teacher may allow this, perhaps thinking that colloquial American English is unsophisticated, unrefined or even incorrect. Not so at all! Just as you don't say the T in listen, the TT in better is pronounced D, bedder. Any other pronunciation will sound foreign, strange, wrong or different to a native speaker.

~~~~


All of these are true. Here people won't make an effort to understand because as the author expresses they just have an ear for English. I had friends from several parts of the world in Panama, for example Lebanese, Chinese, Israeli, and all of them will speak in Spanish with an accent because Spanish wasn't their native language, and I have never had a hard time understanding them. The words would be pronounced or would sound different but I was able to understand everything. But here, I do feel sometimes weird about my accent, specially when I am at the Drive Thru, it is like I am speaking a language other than English to them, the struggle is real...

I don't think accents are bad, they even sound cute to me sometimes, but I guess there are languages like English that need a little more effort in the pronunciation.

-Ari-

Posted
0
#11
Ranger
Posts230Likes 120Joined 16/9/2018Location
Native
Spanish
Other English, Italian

Mel.Palogan wrote:

The point of a language is to be understood. If you have that down then I don't think accent matters that much. But if you really want to improve your accent maybe this might help:



When she spoke using Portuguese and Japanese accents it was hard to understand.




-Ari-

Posted
1
#12
Dwarf
Posts62Likes 27Joined 22/9/2018LocationLagos / NG
Native
English
Other French

I've been told that I have a Jamaican accent by two different people that aren't Africans. It's funny because I hahaven't been to Jamaica, I don't know anyone from there and I certainly don't watch their movies and songs regularly. 

I think when people don't understand you, they will try to blame it on your accent and look for the popular ones to pair it with.   

If I was to choose being an animal, I will like to be an Eagle.

Posted
0
#13
Dwarf
Posts50Likes 35Joined 6/10/2018LocationIrpin / UA
Native
Russian, Ukrainian
Other Dutch, English, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish

I have always been amused by foreigners speaking Russian with a very thick accent. Well, it was till the moment I actually realized that this is exactly how native English or German speakers perceive my speech. 

Since then I have been working much harder on my pronunciation, and I aspire to reach the level of a pure acquired pronunciation :)


Posted
0
#14
Ranger
Posts347Likes 189Joined 13/7/2018LocationPasig / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, French, Spanish

It might be nice to learn to speak Russian with an authentic Russian accent rather than an overdone "Russian" accent from the movies. I'm a big fan of foreign accents. :)

Posted
0
#15
Ent
Posts760Likes 466Joined 18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Korean
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I think it's unfortunate that so many are jumping on the "don't worry about your accent" bandwagon. I get it. People are more likely to buy products from those who say everything is easy. And it's true that any degree of difficulty in any aspect of language learning will discourage some people. But I wish these product sellers would just stop, because the takeaway for many inexperienced learners becomes "pronunciation isn't important". Sorry, but that's just false; pronunciation is very, very important. Nobody is saying it has to be perfect, but if you don't sound anything like a native speaker then you should actually study it.  

Signature

Posted
0
#16
Ranger
Posts298Likes 165Joined 11/7/2018LocationManila / PH
Native
Tagalog
Learning English, Korean

leosmith wrote:
I think it's unfortunate that so many are jumping on the "don't worry about your accent" bandwagon. I get it. People are more likely to buy products from those who say everything is easy. And it's true that any degree of difficulty in any aspect of language learning will discourage some people. But I wish these product sellers would just stop, because the takeaway for many inexperienced learners becomes "pronunciation isn't important". Sorry, but that's just false; pronunciation is very, very important. Nobody is saying it has to be perfect, but if you don't sound anything like a native speaker then you should actually study it.


I wish I can use a gif saying Amen to this. :)

--

ikay

Posted
1
#17