Why do we have an accent when we speak English and how can we improve?
You may have heard that actors hire speech therapists to help them speak with a different accent or in order to hide their own accent and in this way give more credibility to their characters. It seems that today ordinary people come to these speech therapists as well in order to correct or perfect their accent when they speak English. In the United States, for example, where there are so many different immigrant groups, there are even "Accent Elimination Programs". Most interestingly, these programs are designed for specific groups of people because it is known that, when speaking English, the challenges for people from India, for example, are different of those from China. If you are a Spanish native speaker and you want to have proper English pronunciation, you would also have to perform some specific exercises. Why, and what are these?
Until the age of 7 we learn to speak in a certain way, and since each language is different, we get our "accent" when we are very young. In addition, it does not depend only on the language of our parents, but more so, on the community, the school, and the country where we are. Children who grow up in a different country to their parents’ usually end up like native speakers of the country where they grew up, and instead speak their parents' language with an accent.
This happens because talking means using the mouth, jaw, tongue, lips, and muscles in a certain way for long periods of time. When we try to speak a different language we still keep some of our original pronunciation and intonation patterns. And although we try to pronounce accurately, there are always traces of our mother tongue in our speech. If you are curious to know the specific patterns native speakers of Spanish follow when they speak English, and how to correct them you can read about it here.
Accents are a natural part of oral language and although, in the end, we might feel proud of our own, in order to avoid difficulties and misunderstandings it is advisable to try to improve our pronunciation when speaking foreign languages. The key is to listen carefully to the native speakers and repeat many times the same words. Here at Lewolang we offer you the opportunity to hear the way a native speaker says a word or phrase first, and then improve your own pronunciation through the voice recognition system that tells you whether you are doing it right or not.