Proven ways to get a native-like accent

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Hashimi
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Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Hashimi » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:03 am

Hi,

I have a three months vacation, and I want to improve my accent to be native-like or near native.

I don't want general tips or advice, I'm looking for a proven structured method or program, with detailed steps for a certain amount of time everyday.

I've heard about a method by a Swedish doctor, but I don't know if it's good or not, and I don't know what is his method exactly because he wrote it in Swedish and his English writings is theoretical and academic.

Anyone knows about this method or have a summary of it?

Are there any other proven methods?
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nuncapense
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby nuncapense » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:13 am

Hey, did you ever study in Cairo AUC?
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anamsc
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby anamsc » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:54 am

Unfortunately, I don't have any tried and true method. But I did try that method from the Swedish doctor, and I can tell you that it certainly did not give me a native accent. I did it when I started studying French, which remains the language in which I have the worst accent. It's definitely possible that I didn't do the method correctly. However, I've gotten better results with specific phonetics and phonology study combined with intensive and extensive listening.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby tangleweeds » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:05 am

Book time with professional speech therapist or accent coach in your target language.

If that's not feasible, at least use some kind of technology that allows you to listen to a native speaking a sentence or phrase, record yourself repeating it as accurately as you can, and then compare yourself to the native speaker. And do it over and over again. Anki lets you do this.
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Hashimi
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Hashimi » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:47 am

Hey, did you ever study in Cairo AUC?


Why?


But I did try that method from the Swedish doctor


How did you try it? What were your steps?
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby garyb » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:59 am

That would be Olle Kjellin's "Accent Addition" method.

I tried it too, doing a bit a day for a month or so. I saw some improvements, I think it helped me take my accent from bad to okay, but after that I felt like I was no longer making progress. I'm sure it works great when done as described with an expert instructor, but if you do it alone you're missing that vital feedback and you're only relying on your own perception, which is limited unless you have a great ear for accents. And if you have a great ear for accents then you don't need the method in the first place...

I've been looking for years (my goal isn't native-like, but just a good rather than a bad accent!) and tried all sorts of things, and I've not yet found one magical method that I can recommend. Many language-specific resources only focus on individual sounds and give little attention to prosody and none at all to other important aspects of the voice like the general position of the speaking apparatus. I reckon that tangleweeds's suggestion of working with a professional would be the best bet, as it's something that's very hard to improve without quality feedback, but I've not tried it myself.
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Brian
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Brian » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:00 pm

Does anyone actually ever achieve an accent that is indistinguishable from a native? Sure, it's possible to speak in a manner that's instantly understood by a native but I know many non-native English speakers who speak great English, yet the foreign twang is always present.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Eliza » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:39 pm

Brian wrote:Does anyone actually ever achieve an accent that is indistinguishable from a native? Sure, it's possible to speak in a manner that's instantly understood by a native but I know many non-native English speakers who speak great English, yet the foreign twang is always present.


Yes, I'd say so. I've met 2-3 persons who learnt German as a second language who spoke accent-free. One of them even spoke with a slight German local dialect which made it extremely authentic. (French and Polish natives, if that matters.)
Also, I managed to say at least a few sentences in Polish before people realized that it was not my first language ;) (even though this might be due to probability: there are few people who actually learn Polish.)

However, it is still a conscious effort which means that once you get tired and lose concentration, your accent is likely to come back.

On the other hand, I've met 2 people from Iran who grew up in Germany and are bilingual. They speak German with no noticeable accent, but it sounds "too well" if that is a thing. They pronounce each word absolutely correct, but they miss the typical occasional slurs/contractions that native speakers use.
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Xmmm » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:25 pm

hmmm ... why though?

As a native English speaker in California, I hear non-native speakers all the time. There are different levels of accent:

1. horrible, incomprehensible accent -- what are you even saying, I can't figure it out.
2. heavy, unpleasant accent -- I can understand what you're saying but I don't want to listen
3. light to medium accent -- no problem.
4. nearly invisible accent -- typically people who learned English between ages of 10 to 15. This tends to just be a bit of a lilt. I typically have to listen for a minute or two to be sure it's not native.
5. native

I've only run into one case of #5 in my life, and he claimed he did it by watching TV and singing along with rock songs. I doubt it, but that's what he claimed.

I definitely understand the benefit of moving from #1 to #3, but what's the benefit of moving from #3 to #5? To ... fool people? As Benny Lewis said, most people who are learning languages aren't learning them to be spies ...
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Re: Proven ways to get a native-like accent

Postby Alphathon » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:33 pm

Xmmm wrote:hmmm ... why though?

As a native English speaker in California, I hear non-native speakers all the time. There are different levels of accent:

1. horrible, incomprehensible accent -- what are you even saying, I can't figure it out.
2. heavy, unpleasant accent -- I can understand what you're saying but I don't want to listen
3. light to medium accent -- no problem.
4. nearly invisible accent -- typically people who learned English between ages of 10 to 15. This tends to just be a bit of a lilt. I typically have to listen for a minute or two to be sure it's not native.
5. native

I've only run into one case of #5 in my life, and he claimed he did it by watching TV and singing along with rock songs. I doubt it, but that's what he claimed.

I definitely understand the benefit of moving from #1 to #3, but what's the benefit of moving from #3 to #5? To ... fool people? As Benny Lewis said, most people who are learning languages aren't learning them to be spies ...
Personally I'm happy enough with #3, but I think some people strive to appear native so that they are treated as a native. I dare say that to a degree the benefits depend on which language you're learning (some cultures are more welcoming to outsiders than others).

As English speakers we're in a pretty privileged position in that regard as we have both a large number of pretty varied native accents and speak a global language and so encounter non-natives speaking our language at high levels relatively frequently (even if its only in the media). Other languages' cultures may not be so forgiving.
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