<b>Forum for ideas on how to teach pronunciation </b>

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Post by Alona » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:51 pm


I have been wondering about the following question for quite some time, and would appreciate your comments:

What makes one person more capable of adapting his/her speech to the approproate accent than another person?


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Post by joshua2004 » Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:13 am

I believe in what I read in one of Stephen Krashen's books that said something to this effect:

When we speak with an accent other people take note of the fact that we are not native. Thus, the people talking to us alter their speech. We have to be unafraid of being bombarded by unedited native speech. I know foreigners here in Mexico that can speak better than they do, but do not want to lose the security of sounding foreign. At least I think they can speak better than they do.

Then there is my mom. She has lived in the USA for about 30 years; she is from Mexico. She has and will always have an accent. But I think she doesn't want to lose her culture more than she is afraid of people speaking to her in a way she doesn't understand. I think she likes sounding Mexican; its her special badge.

I would be interested as well in hearing other people's perspectives on accents.

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Post by Lorikeet » Thu Mar 09, 2006 8:01 am

I think that the ability to mimic is a gift for some people. If you can copy different kinds of accents in your native language, including accents of various speakers from other language backgrounds, I think you can probably pick up the pronunciation of other languages pretty well. I've always been able to do that, as have my parents and my kids. I always thought it was hereditary. ;)

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Post by DutchECK » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:33 am

I agree with Lorikeet. I know someone who copies accents in less than a minute. She has an American accent, but when she speaks to one of her Irish friends on the phone, she suddenly has a heavy Irish brogue. I need more exposure, but I too am able to copy accents. However, I also know people who cannot do that at all. I think it's a talent some people have

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Post by AnGM » Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:47 am

Some people, like me, do it without even realizing it.

When we lived in the Netherlands, my closest English-speaking friends were Scottish, Canadian, and Australian. My husband could tell which one I was talking with on the phone within 5 seconds, just by listening to what accent I took on when speaking with them.

None of that was conscious.

What I did do consciously was to try to adjust my vocabulary a bit. I had a young child, and when I spoke with my Canadian friend I talked about "diapers" and when I talked to the other two, I used the word "nappies" instead. What my Canadian friend called a "stroller," my Australian friend called a "pram," and my Scottish friend called a "pushchair" (because apparently it wasn't big enough to qualify as a UK-style pram). So I tried to use the vocabulary that the person I was speaking to would understand -- but the accent I took on was completely unconscious.

My husband on the other hand, has lived in Belgium, in the UK, and in several different regions of the US -- and his accent has not changed one iota since I've known him.

I think you're either born with it or you're not.

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Post by Manawar » Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:34 am

Firstly, I would like to agree that communicating with a diverse group of people from different walks of life, from a young age, allows the person to acquire these fine tools in changing words to suit a context, and secondly, that subtle accents are drawn from when speaking: for example, in a mother tongue which is not yours.

Thirdly, I am a mature-age student doing my degree in secondary education, and my minor is in ESL, so academically, I need to be able to relate to my students: to be able to help them appropriately in speaking Australian english, when English is my second language can also be a bit daunting. I would appreciate any sound advice on teaching creative lessons for esl english in secondary classroom.

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