OK, so everything is constant: including speaking, listening and reading in English regarding non-native countries. How long does it take a person to learn to speak english as perfect as natives. My Indian class mate took 11 years, eversince she's gone to international school where english is frequently used. English has automatically become her first language now ( where Hindi was literally her native language). I've only been studying at international university for 3 years, and this is as far as i have come. Most of the students who go to my uni do not speak english but Thai. Their english is extremely poor even the teachers dont speak clear enough english and very often make so many mistakes. THere are only a few native speaker teachers which are assigned to teach in ESL classes. So i dont get to hear the genuine english language in my school any more. its sad, but i could still practice with some class mates whose first language is english but then again they re more comfortable in speaking Thai with me so, there u go, another second sad thing about my uni
It really depends in how often you study english, and practice pronouncing words, you might have an accent, but if you practice pronouncing words long enough, you'll say words the same as a native speaker. Just keep practicing and don't give up, it's not impossible.
Also, You should try to speak more to people in english than Thai, if you speak to people talk to them in english so you'll get more comfortable talking in english to native speakers, so speak more to people in english and you'll find yourself more comfortable speaking english. Trust me it will work, every one that has learn a new language i know had to do that, and it work for them, so talk more in english to people than Thai for a while.
I have read that if you have not started living in an English-speaking only environment by age 12, then you will never be able to speak with a perfect accent as used by someone in a native-speaking English country. After age 12, speech patterns are too ingrained to ever fully change even with full daily immersion to a second language.
It's possible to sound very "Americanized" if you live in the USA for a long time, but you will always have a trace of an accent and people will know it. I've heard professional actors from other English-speaking countries perfect an American accent, but never anyone from a non-English-speaking country. But people who worry about accents too much are perfectionists. Nobody will care as long as your English is clear and grammatically correct. Still, working on accent is important even if Americans or British or whoever will always be able to detect a trace accent of your first language.
I agree with what you wrote. However, you might find a teenager who went to an English speaking country and soon picked up the local accent at the age of 16 or so. But the younger you are, the sooner you can speak like a native. We can't generalize as individuales are different, but 18 or 20 is 'almost' late.
Children learn a language apparently effortlessly (it's not effortless, of course) for several reasons. First of all, because they are not as reading-oriented as an adult, they listen for the right things. Instead of wondering "how to spell it", they repeat back EXACTLY what they hear — rhythms and pronunciation, regardless of spelling. Second, children are more willing to make mistakes. Adults don't want to embarrass themselves, they don't want to look foolish, they don't want to appear ignorant, so they stick with what they know. Third, children aren't as "invested" in their original language as an adult might be — children are more willing to accept different ways of thinking, and different ways of saying things. All of which is to say that while a child may just "pick up" a native sounding accent, an adult can do the same thing (with a little extra work).
>Instead of wondering "how to spell it", they repeat back EXACTLY what they hear — rhythms and pronunciation, regardless of spelling.<
True, children repeat exactly what they hear and that's why they learn easier. They repeat because they hear the right sound of a language. The adults don't always hear the right sounds and therefore they pronounce incorrectly.
>All of which is to say that while a child may just "pick up" a native ounding accent, an adult can do the same thing (with a little extra work). <
I don't agree here. I myself am a good example. I went to France at the age of 22 and I took French lessons and speak French correctly. In spite of my efforts to speak French like a native, I still speak French with a non-native accent. My nephew who came to France at the same time and who was only two speaks like a French. So an adult can't do the same thing with a little extra work, but he or she can improve it a lot.
Second, children are more willing to make mistakes. Adults don't want to embarrass themselves, they don't want to look foolish, they don't want to appear ignorant, so they stick with what they know.
How does making a mistake help you learn the correct way of saying something?
What Bayou Rover posted is taken from Ann Cook's website(americanaccent.com).
>Second, children are more willing to make mistakes. Adults don't want to embarrass themselves, they don't want to look foolish, they don't want to appear ignorant, so they stick with what they know.
How does making a mistake help you learn the correct way of saying something?<
Tom, I think this statement is not false. The two-year-old children who speak their own language make mistakes of pronunciation, syntax, ...etc. A very few people, if not any think they are ignorant or foolish as said in above statement. They are exposed to their mother tongue all the day, if not 24 hours a day. The partents or people around them correct them, make them repeat words and little by little they learn how to speak correctly. Around the age of three most children speak their mother tongue with a considerable amonunt of vocabulary.
I think If adults behave like children, they would learn quicker too. If they were not embarrassed of making mistakes they would progress better. If we don't dare to speak lest to make mistakes, we don't improve a lot. Yes, we learn by making mistakes especially if someone gives us the correct answers.
I believe there is nothing impossible, but only if you kept on training even you failed many times in this. I guess it is not healthy to make all people hopeless toward hard things. It is true that I copied the statement from website but I am convinced about everything in it. I had my own experience in having accents that I got rid of my southern accent and acquired a Canadian one so fast. I don’t say it won’t be hard, but motivation is the keyword here.
I can be pretty childlike and immature. Maybe that's why I'm so good at learning languages even though I'm in my late 20s. :-P
Seriously, there are a couple of points I want to bring up. First, I think some of people's difficulty learning accents at a late age has to do with the way the brain works. By the time some reaches an age in their early teens, I think the neural pathways are already mapped out when it comes to language. While someone who goes to a class to learn English and who is lectured to and corrected by a native English speaker has a much better chance of learning an accent close to the native one, I still think that unconsciously it is difficult if not possible to change language patterns after a certain age.
Second and more importantly, there is a major difference between pronouncing words correctly and speaking with an accent. Anyone can learn the sounds of a language. Some sounds like unvoiced 'th' are difficult but can be learned by anybody of any culture. Accent is more the rhythm in which one speaks an accent than the pronunciation, and it is extremely difficult for even professional actors to learn. Even most actors with professional speech training screw up accents. Concentrate on pronouncing words correctly and not as much the accent. If you pronounce everything correctly along with having good grammar, you will speak excellent English, even if it is accented English, and you will fit in just fine.
<<<How does making a mistake help you learn the correct way of saying something? >>>
It is not making the mistake that helps you learn. It is not being afraid of making mistakes that lets you learn. That is because it is impossible to pronounce something correctly the first time. You have to practice over and over to get it right. If you are afraid of sounding stupid and don't speak, you won't ever get it right.
I think you are right about brain development and languages. I read that brain scans (PET) of multi-lingual people showed that each language "resides" in its own portion of the brain. When you learn a new language, you must start thinking only in the new language without trying to translate. Translating keeps activating the "old language's" part of the brain, and thinking in the new language develops its own "storage area."
Very well said.
Do you people think it depends on how old you are to speak close as possible like a native?
Do you think a 25-year-old American who decides to go and live in France will soon pick up the native accent ? I'm afraid, they won't.