Native-like accent in Luca Lampariello's blog

I just wrote an article for Luca’s blog. He showed me how to improve my pronunciation and above all intonation with incredibly effective techniques.

What surprised me is how many things I ignored. Noticing is essential, and we can partly learn to do it by ourselves, but sometimes we need somebody else’s help. In my case, Luca changed the way I see pronunciation and intonation, it opened a new world for me. He showed me that in the end intonation DOES count, because it is an essential part of communicating and establishing an emotional connection with a native speaker.

I just wanted to share it with you here in this forum

Berta salutes you

1 Like

Interesting article. There is no question that Luca speaks with very little accent in English and sounds native to me in a number of others. I am sure he is a great teacher, drawing on his experience and achievements, and his patient and gentle nature.

I agree that intonation, or the music of the language, is more important than the pronunciation of the individual sounds, The intonation will force the pronunciation of individual words to change and to improve.

Attitude matters a lot. In order to imitate the intonation, we have to want to join the language group whose language we are learning. We have to abandon our inhibitions, and our desire to stay in our comfortable native linguistic-cultural zone.

As to when to start, in my view it does not matter. Since I am basically a input based learner, I start attempting to pronounce when I start speaking. In my experience, if we have 6 months or so of listening behind us, it is a lot easier to imitate the intonation.

It is possible at LingQ to stream the audio and read. Phrase by phrase, then sentence by sentence, and then paragraph by paragraph, if we try to capture the rhythm of the native speaker, without worrying about mispronouncing or even completely missing individual words, I think our rhythm will improve.

Yet I know many foreigners who speak English admirably but with an accent, and it lends a certain distinction to their speech. It is not obvious to me that we need to pursue native like pronunciation. Getting close is good enough.


Very entertaining article

Steve said: “…Getting close is good enough…”

I agree. While it is good to have a decent accent, absolute 100% perfection (or even near perfection) is simply not a goal which most adult learners can ever hope to reach, IMO. So why waste energy over it?

For sure there are some guys like Luca who are able to sound nearly native - but I believe this is a special talent.

While his pronounciation is very good indeed in many of his languages, I find his English accent definitely not native like, neither UK, nor US nor otherwise,

I just listened to a few minutes of a video with him, and his English pronunciation is fantastic. His accent is somewhat strange, but definitely could be native.

I think I would buy Luca as an American native speaker of English - at least in a brief conversation. If I had a really long and in-depth talk with him, it’s possible I would notice some little things which wouldn’t quite ring true. But his accent is extremely good, in my opinion.

(I still think he should have chosen a British accent though! :-p)

“(I still think he should have chosen a British accent though! :-p)”

I could not agree more.

I do not think most North Americans would take Luca for a native speaker of North American English. I think most would take him for someone who has lived a long time in North America, possibly since childhood, but still with a little something that gives him away. I do not find this in his Spanish, French or German, although I am not a natives speaker of these languages. His pronunciation in languages like Swedish, Russian, and Chinese which he has spoken less than the former group, is also astoundingly good.

Luca speaks with little to no accent. I am a native speaker of English but I have a slight “accent” to the ears of the typical American (i.e. not American born). But who cares?

Of course you can tell that Luca at times uses the wrong expressions or sentence constructions, which is a more obvious giveaway that English is not his native language.

However, his accent is near perfect and he need not worry about improving it in my opinion.

Of course it does not matter that Luca does not sound like a native. Of course he need not improve. His English is excellent. I would be happy to speak any foreign language as well as he speaks English. However, I do not believe that he sounds like a native to a native speaker, sorry. I agree that it does not matter.

It is extremely rare for an adult to learn to sound a language like a native. I think it is a futile goal.

I do not sound like a native in any language I speak, although I pronounce a number of them quite well. If I can detect that Luca is not a native, others can as well. If a significant number can detect that he is not native, then he is not native. I think the point is beyond dispute.

I agree for 100% with Steve that it is a futile goal to seek to pronounce a foreign language just as a native speaker. It is important only if you would like to be a spy.
In all other cases it’s much more important to learn more words and constructions, to be able to express your opinions and feelings in a foreign language adequately.

@Steve: “…but still with a little something that gives him away…”

Yes, if you listen to him for several minutes there would be little things which wouldn’t quite ring true. Having said that, if you just met him at random and had a brief conversation with him he might just pass as a native. (My first language is UK-English, but I have close family connections in the US, so I know a little bit about what these dudes sound like!)

Of course, being even “98% native” in terms of accent is an impressive accomplishment - and not one which most adult learners could emulate.

But I agree (as I said above) that it is not important to be this good. Provided that natives can clearly understand what we are saying, the job is done, IMO.

Anyway, I quite like listening to English spoken with (for example) a detectable French accent. Coming from a woman it would even be sexy! :smiley:

When I watched a Luca video for the first time, I remember wondering within the first 10 seconds of his video whether he wasn’t Israeli (primarily because I have a very good friend from Jerusalem who has a similar “just a little off” American accent). As a native North American speaker from the Midwest, it was immediately obvious to me that while he had a very good accent, English wasn’t his first language.

He speaks very well, but any claim that he has zero accent is pure hyperbole, in my opinion. Perhaps he’s good enough to fool the British though? :wink:

@gregf “…Perhaps he’s good enough to fool the British though?..”

Yeah yeah. You guys just stole the language because you didn’t have one of your own! :-p

Maybe we should be paid royalties from all the countries in the world who use our invention as their national language? :smiley:

Accents are very difficult to nail, at least I find that to be the case. I still find it very difficult to hide my regional German accent and I could never pass for someone from a differnt region in Germany, especially the Southern parts of my country. I have colleagues who speak almost 100% standard news anchor German but still I can hear which region or even city they are from. Trying to nail accents including for foreign languages has something of a comedian thing. Like people impersonating known personalities. When I watch Luca’s Chinese video his pronunciation is very good but what he says is the same limited standard run of the mill youtube polyglot repertoire. If I have to choose between good and natural phrasing or perfect accent, I take the phrasing each and every time.

I havn’t posted in a while and this morning I was greeted with 13 notification emails from Lingq clogging up my gmail inbox. I remember we had this discussion before, I have no idea why I keep getting these spam like emails for a thread I havn’t even created. If I post on a thread, I am naturally interested in it and do not need to be reminded of that and certainly not 13 times.

Luca’s Chinese is very good given the time he has spent on it. He may not have as broad a range of vocabulary as you Friedemann, but then language learning is not about competition. If his vocabulary is limited, I assume that this would be from from lack of exposure, not because he has deliberately tried to perfect a “standard run of the mill youtube polyglot repertoire” as you call it. It can only improve. I also do not think that “youtube polyglots” deliberately limit their repertoire in order to impress people with their skills, but rather language learning is usually the subject that most people are interested in hearing about. I have the impression that he can discuss a wide range of subjects because his control of the most common syntax and phrasing is very good.

With regard to how the forum works, I do not remember the details of the last discussion on this subject. The forum is here for our members, and is one of the many functions that LingQ provides. We are constantly working on what we think are priority items for the people most actively using LingQ to learn languages, and we also want to ensure that new members get involved. Perhaps Mark or Alex will comment, but I seem to remember that the way the forum is structured is perceived to serve these goals. Or perhaps we plan to change things but the priority is not that high. Let’s wait to hear from them on this. I am sitting in San Antonion Texas right now.

I could suggest that you can untick any thread in order to not receive reminder emails. But then I don’t want to deprive you of the opportunity to wax indignant.

@freidemann - If you post on a thread, you are subscribed to it automatically. If you don’t want to get reminders, you then need to untick the “watching thread” tickbox at the top. While this might be inconvenient for you, for the majority of users this is preferable. We do have to look after the majority and there is no perfect solution here, unfortunately.

I do believe that the reason why YT polyglots normally choose their pet topic is in many cases at least partly because it makes them more comfortable and yes, I do think that this makes the level of command in that language seem better than it really is. Especially with Chinese comprehension is the key benchmark for me and a short snippet of a Chinese monologue a la Luca (the one I have watched online) is more like an acting performance to me rather than a true measure of one’s true capability in that particular language. While language learning is no competition for me it would be naive to believe that there is no competitive element to the the YT scene at all. Nobody says, ok, today I will upload a video where I really struggle.

Of course I need my regular dose of arguing with the lingq team but wouldn’t it be nice if Lingq accepted my choice once I unchecked after my first comment and not recheck by default after every comment?

PS.: it seems that the system did not re-check this time, let’s see…