Hello to all the learners of Lingq.com
My question for the readers is easy: I speak English, I mean my English is not so good yet, but…is it only a dream for me speaking the language like a native? Or with many and many years of practising I can reach the goal?
Looking forward to read your answers…
I’ve met some amazing English speakers who’ve done just that. Without evening living abroad. Losing an accent or being completely undetectable as a non-native speaker is perhaps an impossible mission (as an adult learner).
Make sure you set some smaller goals along the way - break the task down. Using known words on LingQ is a good indicator.
Thanks a lot for your advice. I have to say I agree with you. In fact I know I have to reach goals proceding with smaller steps.
Maybe speaking as a native is not the most important thing for a lerner as could be speaking fluently the language!
Many thanks for your advice.
I have a question for you. I’m curious to know. Why is it important for you to speak perfectly? Why do you care if you have an accent, or make a rare grammatical error? I am a native English speaker (from Ireland) and I have quite a thick accent, I have to clean up my pronunciation and slow down my natural speaking speed considerably anytime I leave Ireland. But I don’t care and neither does anyone else.
Don’t you think it would be better to speak 2 languages very well than 1 language perfectly? Maybe you should give yourself a chance to develop a passion for a different language.
With regard to speaking well I would recommend a technique called ‘shadowing’, which has worked very well for me in Korean (I speak very little Korean but Korean’s can understand me easily enough, usually Koreans cannot understand foreigners when they try to speak Korean).
The guy who popularized the technique describes it here:
Best of luck
or being completely undetectable as a non-native speaker is perhaps an impossible mission (as an adult learner)
You don’t have to be completely undetectable, but people were often surprised in simple conversations, as they discovered, that I was not German, as I’ve been in Berlin after learning the language for two years. Both foreign phonetics and intonation are something you can learn just as well, as other parts of the language, if you do it, both consciously and unconsciously.
Why do you care if you have an accent, or make a rare grammatical error?
In some situations it’s necessary, if you want to be taken seriously. The way you speak has an unconscious influence on how people perceive you and they can’t help it even if they want to. Especially, if you belong to a group, that is recognized as immigrants in certain places and you don’t want stereotypes to be applied to you.
Answering to Bonnenouvellejonny, yes I think you’re perfectly right.
I mean, maybe this is a general problem of mine. I can speak a fluent English sometimes, and other times I have more difficulties even trying to find the right words I’d like to say. Maybe there is a certain curiosity inside my brain as sometimes I think: but how should I seem speaking the same English they speak in England rather than in USA?
Finally I agree with you also on this point. It is really better to speak two or more languages very well than speaking one perfectly.
Thanks for your time.
I have been speaking English for decades and I like to think of myself as somebody who speaks it reasonably well, at least well enough to earn my living as an interpreter. However, I am quite sure that I’m detectable as a non-native speaker of English despite the fact that sometimes people are not sure where I come from and that I may be able to “fool” them for 5 minutes or so. My accent isn’t fixed either, it changes depending on the time I have spent speaking the language or consciously listening to it.
ad eugrus (…) In some situations it’s necessary, if you want to be taken seriously. The way you speak has an unconscious influence on how people perceive you and they can’t help it even if they want to. Especially, if you belong to a group, that is recognized as immigrants in certain places and you don’t want stereotypes to be applied to you. (…)
It is a sad fact that (some) people still discriminate against those who speak with an accent. I see that in my country and I have seen it in many other countries. However, speaking without an accent will not really “protect” you from the ignorance of these people. Just think of the many immigrants of former Soviet republics you can find in Moscow now. They speak excellent Russian and yet some people discriminate against them (especially brainless right-wing supporters whose Russian probably is not half as good as the one spoken by some of those immigrants). The same is true of Turkish people living in Austria and Germany. Quite a few of them speak German much better than Germans and Austrians who never lived in another country. And yet they are discriminated against. If people want to hate you, they will find a reason to do so.
I do believe that the “obsession” with losing one’s accent has to do with a deep desire to fit in, hoping that in doing so you may be able to avoid getting into trouble. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing to try and imitate a native’s accent. I do so as well but I understand that there are limits to what I can do and I still very much enjoy my ability to converse in several languages even though I speak with an accent in all of them.
Personally, I don’t care about the accent of people, I care about their character and what they have to say. I’d rather talk to someone who is knowledgable and open-minded and speaks with an accent than to someone who (seemingly) speaks without any accent but has little to say or is narrow-minded.
I think that the accent a person speaks with is greatly overrated.
On a final note I’d like to congratulate eugrus on his German. I have read many of your German posts and I would have never thought that you have been studying German for only two years. You have reached an incredibly high level within a very short period of time. Hats off!