Have you ever started learning a language and realised that you just can’t pronounce a certain sound? This aspect is incredibly frustrating when I learn a new language. You’re trying to make a sound that your mouth just can’t produce. I noticed this with my Swedish (and English) students as well. I hear from many students and from fellow language learners on language forums such as italki constantly that they want to sound exactly like a native speaker.
Having “Native” Pronunciation
Is that even possible? Is it really that horrible if you have a foreign accent in your target language? I feel like many people tend to think that their non-native pronunciation is going to make them seem less fluent or cause detrimental situations when they speak the language with a distinctive accent. Is it really that important to fool people into thinking you’re a native speaker? Having this obsession when it comes to learning new languages can be unrealistic. Especially if you’re an absolute beginner. While someone could repeat the sounds over and over again, it just seems like your mouth is denying you the ability to make that sound.
How Many Times Do I Have To Repeat?
Probably one of the most frustrating things about certain language programmes is the annoying amounts of repetition in the course. Sometimes I can be beneficial but other times it can be so painful that you just want to catapult your course into space! Maybe your teacher or tutor is constantly correcting you so much that you feel like you’re not learning another language. My suggestion to you is to find another teacher or tutor if they are too frustrating or ineffective.
Another tip is to not focus on it so much that you are spending less time actually learning the language.
Paying Attention Through Attentive Listening
It’s always important to listen to how this sound is made and pay attention to body language from native speakers. How do they use their mouth to make that sound. Don’t get discouraged if you are unable to produce the exact sounds at the very beginner. Especially if you are making the correct sound but have a slightly foreign accent. I noticed that the more I listen, the easier it is to make that sound. This also includes repeating the sound I’m hearing simultaneously. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing it for hours on end. It could drive you insane. (I know I would be!)
Bottom line: As long as you can make yourself understood, your accent really doesn’t matter.
Don’t be discourage that you can’t pass for a native. Especially if you’re an adult language learner. It’s not worth trying to make the impossible happen. If you can pull off a native-like accent, great! But it’s not the end of the world if you can’t!
What do you think about learning authentic pronunciation? Do you think it’s possible to obtain a native-like accent in a target language to the point where you could pass for a native? How much importance do you place on pronunciation? Do you pronounce things correctly but you still have a slightly foreign accent?