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What about accent?

FrankFrank ModeratorPosts: 6,554 mod
edited November 2015 in Pronunciation
If you learn a foreign language, like English, do you only focus on learning the words and grammar, or are you aiming on improving your accent too? Do you like to sound like a native or don't you consider that to be important? I asked myself this question various times. Regularly I give presentations in English for an international audience and for that reason I find it important to work on my accent. I don't want to sound like the Dutch prime minister. His knowledge of English and German is excellent, but you wouldn't say that if you heard him speaking those languages. If you don't concentrate intensely on the words he's speaking in the foreign language, it just sounds like he's still speaking Dutch - judge for yourself:

Here you can here Mark Rutte speaking English:

Here he is speaking German:

If you compare that with the language proficiency of Euro parliamentarian Frans Timmermans, you can discover a huge difference. Here you can hear Timmermans speaking in several languages: English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Dutch:

What about you? Would you rather like to speak like Mark Rutte or like Frans Timmermans?


  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    I don't know about other european languages but on russian he speaks bad. :D
  • TeachTeach Your Teacher HomePosts: 10,080 mod
    Some accents are pleasant, and charming, but others - well, not so much. It's more important to develop a way of speaking that people find easy to listen to than to neutralise your accent. Putting on an English accent can be terrible.

    Keanu Reeves in Dracula is one case in point:-

  • TeachTeach Your Teacher HomePosts: 10,080 mod

    I just popped in to post the same link! ROFL
  • TeachTeach Your Teacher HomePosts: 10,080 mod
    As for myself: I lack the skills to hear what's wrong with these accents.

    I think it's that they are really close, but slightly off. Like a robot that is trying to look human, but not quite managing it.
  • FrankFrank Moderator Posts: 6,554 mod
    I hope I'm not going to sound like a robot when I get close to a British accent, but slightly off, @Lynne. Still, I think it's better to sound like an almost British sounding robot than as a Dutch prime minister who doesn't adapt his accent in other languages at all. Especially if I were in a position like his, I would like to get rid of my overly Dutch accent immediately.

    Do you think there's a difference between Keanu Reeves who, as a Canadian, only tries to adapt a British accent for a specific role, and a non-English speaker who adapts his accent to improve his English speech for the best?
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 0 ✭✭
    @Frank, I believe it is quite hard to learn or copy a typical British or American accent. I believe you keep your own native accent, how hard you try. Or you have to be very talented in language like Frans Timmermans does. He is really amazing!

    I remember I traveled to New York couple of years ago. I tried to talk to people with an "American" accent and I did my best not notice that I am a foreigner. In the beginning they didn't notice, but later on the conversation they discovered and asked me where I came from.

    But It was great fun to try!
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    "Keanu Reeves in Dracula".
    He's too young here, and there are a lot's of Hollywood's actors here, I've never seen this film before! By the way, is Garry Oldman playing Dracula @Lynne?
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I find only non-French speakers tend not to recognise my accent is English (and maybe Brits who can speak French ). But north Africans often ask if I'm from Canada! And one time I was told my accent sounded Swiss (but not German Swiss thank goodness ).
  • GemmaRowlandsGemmaRowlands Moderator Posts: 9,951 mod
    I think that it's important to try and pick up the accent to some extent as it means that you're easier to understand when you're speaking to people. But you don't have to make it exactly right - just enough to be understandable.
  • navidafrasiabiannavidafrasiabian CanadaPosts: 1,363 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think accent is an important thing that everyone should pay attention to it.I have been studying English for 8 years,but I have worked on my accent since 2 years ago.When you try to talk like natives,the pronunciations become more familiar and then you understand the others talking more easily.
    In addition,people admire you because of your accent and this makes you more self-confidence and encourages you to study more.
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 0 ✭✭
    edited November 2015
    @Frank, thank you for your valuable tips!
  • [Ex Member][Ex Member] Posts: 0 ✭✭
    Well, as I mentioned in my previous comment, it is quite hard to adopt other accent which you have not grown up with. By the way, as Frank describes previously, there are many many English accents; such as Wales, Scottish, Irish, Southern America, Australian, Slinglish, you name it. Even not every native English speaker do not even speak clearly. They often use local dialects and slang terms which not every other native English speakers understand, unless you live there. I think paying attention on pronunciation is better than striving for adopting a native accent to get start with. If you can do them both, that's great of course. I think you have to be very linguistacally talented to achieve that. If you want to adopt an accent, decide first which accent you want to practice. But do not mix them, that would be sound strange.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I remember once hearing a Swedish girl speak English with a pronounced Indian accent as she'd learner the language there. She was easy to understand and it really made no difference whether she spoke with a Swedish, Indian or 'English'accent. As you say @mailforhan, there are so many variations of British accents too.
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    Interesting! :)
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    Our colonial cousins @Glorian, don't really know how to speak English properly. We Brits have to constantly remind them. Lol
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    Exactly right @Ahmad_AbdelAzim. It's more important what you say than how you say it. At least until you become confident.
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    What you mean saying "colonial cousins" @mheredge?
  • OlegOleg Posts: 3,536 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    @Glorian She means that All the people on earth are brothers
    Maybe because our species do have a common ancestor.
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    Hm, don't think so...))
  • Please, check this website : lookaforeigner.com
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    @Glorian this is teasing Americans about their ancestry and referring to the old days when Britain W's thrown out from the US during the Boston Tea Party. As with many things, there still remain a bit of rivalry over British and American English.
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    Thank you 4 history lesson @mheredge, it was cognitive.))
  • BubblyBubbly Posts: 29,890 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    We as Asian have a very different accent. In the last storytellers session, Serge asked me about my accent. We talked about different accents. I don't think or even tried to change my accent as it is not very easy task. But, I definitely want to improve my pronunciation because that matters a lot. I like different accents in English as they make us unique and different from the native speakers. :)
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    What accent do you prefer @Bubbly? AmE or BrE, maybe australian?
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    It goes without saying, doesn't it @Glorian? Surely British English, lol.
  • GlorianGlorian Posts: 1,249 ✭✭✭✭
    Yes, I prefer it too @mheredge.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I find it interesting to hear the number of British accents in the American TV series 24 @Glorian. They must employ quite a lot of British actors in Hollywood.
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