How do I improve my accent.. I am worried about it.

Karl   Saturday, December 18, 2004, 04:35 GMT
Hi, My name is Karl and I came to the U.S when I was 13, now I am 17 and it has been 4 years. When I first came here, I didnt speak english at all and I wasn't worried much because I knew i would catch up. But i never relize its that hard to change your accent. I mean, yes, my accent has been improving these years, but the progress is so slow that didnt catch up the improvment of my reading & writing. Now, I speak good english with an accent. Almost all of my friends are native english speakers and they don't have any accents. Right now, the only thing i am proud of is that none of the immigrants' english is better than me at school. people got no problem of understanding me at all, and I do fit at school. But the thing is that its just weird when you give a speech, it comes up with a forgrein accents. So can anyone help me? I really want to speak american english perfectly . thanks.
Brennus   Saturday, December 18, 2004, 06:43 GMT
Dear Karl,

I think that learning to speak English like a native is largely just a question of practice similar to learning to drive a car or play a musical instrument. The old maxim "Practice makes perfect" applies here too.

An accent is basically the rythm or cadence that a language has. It is different in every language; sometimes even within languages as between American and British English or Mexican and Argentine Spanish.

However, people can and do learn to imitate the cadences of other dialects and languages. I've heard many Americans, especially actors and television comedians, imitate British and German accents. I've read about coaches that teach American actors from the northern United States how to imitate a Southern U.S. accent if they have to play a Southerner in a movie and generally, they are pretty succesful at it.

Your friends are your best resource. Ask them to repeat words or pronunciations you would like to practice on. At 17 you still have time. Albert Einstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both much older than you when they immigrated to the United States.