Posted on | January 5, 2007 | 8 Comments
Everyone thinks he speaks his native language without any accent. Ask around and you will see how true this statement really is.
A few years ago, I took an English improvement course offered in my company which was provided by an external language consultant company. The course was called the “Accent Reduction Course”. Its purpose was to help non-native English speaking employees to ‘reduce’ their accents when speaking English.
I actually asked the representative on the phone, “What do you mean by ‘reducing’ my accent? What can it be reduced to?” I cannot remember exactly how she replied, but I remember she felt a bit embarrassed. I think she kind of got what I meant.
As expected, the course turned out to be a “Speak English with a North-American accent” course, or more precisely Canadian accent. But overall, it was a useful course. One important thing I learned from the class is the importance of intonation and stress in English.
I also observed a few interesting things from my classmates, too. For examples, Mandarin speakers tend to have problem pronouncing the ‘ng’ at the end of the word. They tend to stress the nasal sound too much. Eastern Europeans tend to have difficulty pronouncing the ‘h’ sound, which somehow comes from too far back of the mouth.
As for me, I feel unnatural to pronounce the rhotic ‘r’ sound and flapping the double ‘t’. English speakers in most parts of the world don’t do these things.