Hector
Does imitating really help for speaking like a native? If not,how could it be possible to gain a idiomatic accent?
Aug 22, 2014 7:16 AM
Answers · 8
Sure imitating helps. That's how kids acquire language.
August 22, 2014
It helps a lot indeed, tho some people don't wanna try coz they feel ridiculous and embarrassed when doing it (a common problem in my country). The tips on this video are also very useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChZJ1Q3GSuI
August 22, 2014
I don't understand. What other way is there?
August 22, 2014
Hello Hector. I teach some very young children (as well as my usual adults) and they quite naturally mimic everything I say. If I sneeze, they laugh and mimic my sneeze! I'll have them sneezing in English soon! With the very young children you don't even need to 'teach' them. We play games and sing songs, and they mop up language and accent better than kitchen roll. Henry Higgins would weep in his grave. (Question: who was Professor Henry Higgins?) For my adult students it is much much harder. And yes, they have to try to imitate me sometimes. With some words it doesn't matter - they can say it in their own charming accent and the meaning is clear. But there are some words they really need to work on - because their accent is causing misunderstanding. I only try to 'change' their accent if it causes problems. I like accents! We all have accents. I have an accent (a sort of BBC/Queen'sEnglish with definite RP overtones). I like English regional accents. I love Texan accents. I could listen to Australians and New Zealanders for hours. Canadian accents I like - especially French Canadians. Southern Europeans have a variety of charming accents, as do Latin Americans. Talking of accents, the sexiest English accent is apparently Nigerian English. Nigeria won a competition for sexiest English accent. Interesting! I don't think I've really answered the question, have I? (!) Mimic when you need to, but if you speak clearly, and people understand you, then you don't need to be a parrot. Keep your accent. The important thing is to be understood. To communicate. Even with a strong accent you can speak clearly, and communicate well. What do you think?????
August 22, 2014
Yes, imitating is great for acquiring a native pronunciation. Another way would be to study the phonology of the language, in the case of English, starting with individual phonemes, allophone, and continuing with stress, rhythm, intonation, contrasting stress, etc. You can find relevant articles on the Wikipedia (search for "English phonology" etc), and Cambridge has a book, "Clear Speech," that you can find easily in the USA. It would also be helpful if you knew a comparative linguist specializing in the differences between English and Mandarin, or a really good English teacher with expertise in phonology.
August 22, 2014
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