Can an adult learn to speak a second language with the accent of a native? Not likely, but new research suggests that we would make better progress, and be understood more easily by our conversational partners, if we abandoned a perfect accent as our goal in the language learning process.
For decades, traditional language instruction held up native-like pronunciation as the ideal, enforced by doses of “fear, embarrassment and conformity,” in the words of Murray J. Munro, a professor of linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Munro and a co-author, University of Alberta linguist Tracy Derwing, argue that this ideal is “clearly unrealistic,” leading to disappointment and frustration on the part of most adult language learners. Indeed, a growing body of evidence points to a “critical period” in childhood for acquiring correctly accented fluency in a given language; even as research on neuroplasticity has pushed the limits of what adults can learn, this boundary has remained stubbornly in place. In light of these findings, a newer generation of adult foreign-language teachers has given up pronunciation instruction altogether, assuming it is a futile effort. (more…)
I work on American English pronunciation and accent reduction with Arabic speaking professionals from different parts of the world including Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
These professionals need to make the following adjustments in order to speak American English more clearly: (more…)
Among close friends and family it has become known as the “work voice”. At least an octave lower, leagues slower and my regional accent softened, it is the one I employ for important first-time meetings – and occasionally when drunk.
When it comes to the former, at least, it seems I am not alone, as demand for professional elocution lessons is soaring across the capital. (more…)
Students learning English in Japan soon will have a group of Iowa-trained teachers to help them.
Fourteen Japanese high-school teachers have been here six months, studying at Iowa State University and most recently pitching in at Des Moines-area classrooms. Friday was their last day. (more…)
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Chinese students seeking to study in the United States often have the money to do so. What they lack are spoken English skills.
University bound students need advanced linguistic skills that will enable them to participate in discussions and seminar-type settings.
Chinese speakers who want to speak English well need to learn many new speaking skills including syllable stress, linking, intonation as well as some vowel and consonant sounds.
If you are a Chinese speaker who wants to get into an American University, you many want to consider some American English pronunciation or accent reduction classes. This type of training will help you in your academic and professional career.
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