When I was taught how to speak English in Hong Kong, people always said it is impossible to speak like a native speaker. And I believed it until now when I have heard Tom's accent.
I can communicate in English without any problem. And I felt very lonely recently because my hobby was learning English and I saw no place for a breakthrough. Now I find one. It is my accent. Even though many of you try hard to convince, or console, me that my pronunciation is okay and understandable, there is still a serious problem-people who are not native speakers cannot understand me.
To tell you the truth, my accent is considered very educated in Hong Kong and I am offered a very decent job because of it. But I just don't like the situation that I have to repeat what I have just said.
I always wonder if it is possible to speak like a native speaker of other languages as a learner. Now I get the answer. The very answer!! At the very last!!
I was kind of reinforcing my mistakes during my learning process. And I am totally unaware of them. I hope, if possible, that you all could send Tom your email addresses and Tom would give them to me so that we could talk on phone or netmeeting in order to give me a chance to learn better.
I know that it is against the policy here to ask for "phonepals", but I am in serious need. If you guys are interested in Cantonese, which is not very useful though, I can teach you how to speak. If we can do it in netmeeting or voice chat room, the cost will be near zero. Of course it would be better if Tom can build a voice chat room here.
Sometimes I just think that it is very difficult to discuss spoken lauguages in words.
Friendly guys like MJD and Ryan, please do me a big flavor.
Like Tom, I started learning English when I was 6. But unlike him, I wasted 11 years until I was 17 when I bought a DVD player and started seeing movies with subtitles. I understood nothing in movies until then. And of course, my pronunciation was, or is, very lousy.
There is a fundamental change in my accent from 1997 onwards. If you are interested in knowing how bad I was, I can let you hear it too. But my accent still cannot be native like. I have wasted a lot of time in college and there was no improvement during that period. I am regretting now.
I am 23 now. Is it too late to pay attention to accent? Actually, I am very sad because I know that I have wasted so much precious time which can never come back to me.
From what you have written and what I have heard, I can deduce that you are really good at English. Writing is not a problem for you, neither is speaking. However, you said that you have some problems with your accent and that's the reason why non-native speakers cannot understand you. I wouldn't say that. I think that it's easier to understand a non-native person as they are paying much attention to what they want to say. On the other hand, I understand what you feel. I also regret that I didn't start learning English when I was younger. It would be easier to me now. However, I was too small then to foresee how important it will be to know English. So, either we stop at what we have achieved so far or try to achieve perfection in English.
Of course I will strive for perfection. That is my hobby.
If I do have a pronunciation problem, please do me a great flavor as to help me correct it. I am really out of method now.
I'm from HK too. We are having the same problem, my husband has educated and lived in US for more than 15 years, also with an accent. We both have a decent jobs.
You are right that HK people don't care / don't know. If you tell them you are working hard on accent, they will probally ask, "Why?" Then, they will tell you as long as people can understand them, they don't care about the pronunication or accent.
We've tried many methods, e.g. one-on-one tutoring, attend phonetic courses, online accent reduction course etc...
Have you tried to learn IPA? It helps a lot, in the past, I have no idea on :
hotdog / hot dog
I'm currently using Ann Cook - American Accent Training, not sure if it works or not (I bought it few years ago, never seriously using it). Have you tried it? I guess you can get from Central Library.
Anyway, I think the only way to improve the accent is listen well and practise all the time. I once worked very hard on it, read the paragraph for many times, recorded it etc...
What grade you got from HKCEE and HKAL? My wirtten is very poor but I speak very fluent English as I worked in hotels for many years and now working for a US company.
Let's share more.
I got A in both exams.
The best way to learn is to have someone to correct you everytime you make a mistake.
If you don't mind, I want to talk to you and your husband on phone. Or maybe we three can learn together, so that we can correct each other.
You spoke much more clearly this time. I find your accent quite pleasant to listen to (when I can understand it). This time I understood almost everything on my first listening.
- Your pronunciation of "recording without" was catastrophic.
- "I have to .... people's ...." (assert? criticisms???)
- "I still fail" (bad pronunciation of "fail")
- you pronounced "native" unclearly. Do you know the phonetic transcription for "native"?
- you de-voiced all your word endings -- very important!
- there were some grammar mistakes
This is the best of your recordings and you did a lot of things right.
It is "accept people's criticism". I know it is mispronounced. But I didn't want to do it again. I want to be criticized off guard rather than being flattered.
Please specify how I mispronounced "fail".
I believe it is /'neitiv/. Once again, please specify.
Do you mean I speak "impord", "corg" instead of "import" and "cork"?
Tom, we Chinese have a saying, "Don't say 'thank you' when someone has done you a really great favor." And this is what can best describe my feeling now.
No one will, or can, tell me what my mistakes are in HK.
This time I kept my lips real stiff. And it improved a little bit.
By the way, the accent of my free speech is less broad.
Whereas I had a hard time understanding your first upload, this one was really very clear for me. I understood absolutely every single word (I even guessed "criticism" :oD).
I also think you accent is very pleasant to listen to. Some words sound like you're from HK but the whole thing is really very very clear. I wish I could get rid of my French accent as well as you got rid of yours.
> Please specify how I mispronounced "fail".
Sounded like [f@l] rather than [feil].
> I believe it is /'neitiv/. Once again, please specify.
Correct. But you said a word that sounded like "little".
> Do you mean I speak "impord", "corg" instead of "import" and "cork"?
No, I mean you say "awkwart", "improof", "thinks" (instead of "things"), "langwich".
I can't tell the difference between f and v.
F@l is "standard" HK accent. I learned a lesson. (Other "standard" HK accent include n@m, g@m for name and game.)
You should wish you could be as good as Tom.
I also find it difficult to distinguish between [s] and [z], [f] and [v], [tS] and [dZ], etc. when they occur at the end of a syllable. This may be because I, like you, am an Asian. I used to de-voice all my word endings because I thought no one would notice such subtle differences. But when I sent a sample of my speech to Tom, to my surprise, he could point out all of my de-voicings! From then on, I've tried to pronounce all the voiced consonants more carefully. They are still difficult for me, and they often sound exaggerated, though.