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  • From Elite Learning Staff How To 'acquire' A Native Like Accent?

    I've recently been watching a show called 世界大不同 (Shijie Da Bu Tong), which is a pretty cool show (can check it out on youku) where there are a bunch of 外国人 in the studio and they sit around and answer some questions on a certain issue, proposed by the Chinese host, all the while everyone speaking in Chinese, of course. Not only is this a great show, its also got me thinking about a certain issue in learning Chinese....

    You see, I was always of the opinion that in learning a foreign language things like accent, accurate pronunciation and generally sounding more native, were things that would sort themselves out after years and years of study and immersion. However, on this show, there are more than a good few 外国人 (who tell us they have been in China for around 10 years or so) who have almost perfect Chinese, 'close your eyes and you wouldn't be able to tell they aren't Chinese' type perfect. however there is one guy, an American, while his Chinese is also very good (in terms of his grammar, vocabulary, etc. he's as good as all the other foreigners on the show), his pronunciation is lagging way behind the others, and he's been in China for 14 years! So he's had as much and often more time spent in the country, immersed in the language at least to the degree that he seems to have mastered every other aspect of the language, yet he still is close to sounding native.

    My only conclusion is this; acquiring this level of perfect pronunciation is not guaranteed from prolonged exposure alone but also requires some kind of focus, some kind of effort, basically hard work to get to that native like level.

    Now my question to everyone is; what can we/should we do now to get the process moving, how do you concentrate on these type things? What methods do you have? Recording and listening to your own 发音? Parroting recordings of Chinese with an accent you'd like to acquire? How are these things working for you? Any thing else you'd like to share?

    Thanks for taking a look!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stone.Zhu View Post
    I've recently been watching a show called 世界大不同 (Shijie Da Bu Tong), which is a pretty cool show (can check it out on youku) where there are a bunch of 外国人 in the studio and they sit around and answer some questions on a certain issue, proposed by the Chinese host, all the while everyone speaking in Chinese, of course. Not only is this a great show, its also got me thinking about a certain issue in learning Chinese....

    You see, I was always of the opinion that in learning a foreign language things like accent, accurate pronunciation and generally sounding more native, were things that would sort themselves out after years and years of study and immersion. However, on this show, there are more than a good few 外国人 (who tell us they have been in China for around 10 years or so) who have almost perfect Chinese, 'close your eyes and you wouldn't be able to tell they aren't Chinese' type perfect. however there is one guy, an American, while his Chinese is also very good (in terms of his grammar, vocabulary, etc. he's as good as all the other foreigners on the show), his pronunciation is lagging way behind the others, and he's been in China for 14 years! So he's had as much and often more time spent in the country, immersed in the language at least to the degree that he seems to have mastered every other aspect of the language, yet he still is close to sounding native.

    My only conclusion is this; acquiring this level of perfect pronunciation is not guaranteed from prolonged exposure alone but also requires some kind of focus, some kind of effort, basically hard work to get to that native like level.

    Now my question to everyone is; what can we/should we do now to get the process moving, how do you concentrate on these type things? What methods do you have? Recording and listening to your own 发音? Parroting recordings of Chinese with an accent you'd like to acquire? How are these things working for you? Any thing else you'd like to share?

    Thanks for taking a look!
    My suggestions are:

    - lots of listening to native speaker material and parroting. Even developing an ear for how it should sound (and being able to "play it back" in your mind) is a great aid.

    - recording yourself regularly and comparing to a native speaker. Often you will have the right tones and pronunciation (won't mix them up), but nuances will be way off, timing will be off, and it will sound quite un-native. Hearing this recorded and working on it until it matches a native speaker is a great tool.

    - having critical and unrelenting native speaker friends who will correct you over and over. Finding them might take a while, but it's worth gold.

    Of course, accent acquisition is a complicated topic, and some people are more talented than others.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ever tried to learn a language and found that people cannot understand you when you speak? Learning the vocabulary and grammar rules of a new language is important, but perfecting the accent is key, too.
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      Steps


      1 Try to tune your ear to the sound/accent of the new language. Listen to the tones, inflections, and then phrases and sentences spoken by a variety of native speakers. You can be learning vocabulary during this process, but many hours of careful listening to the new speech sounds and rhythms will be very valuable before you begin to try to pronounce them yourself. Listening to dialogue several hours a week for a couple of months will give you a great start toward acquiring native like speech skills in the new language.
      • Start by watching television shows and movies in the language you're trying to learn. Turn on subtitles if you want to help understand what's happening, but make sure you pay attention to the dialogue and pronunciation as you watch. Even if you don't pick out individual words, this will still help you get the feeling for the native accent.
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      2 Take your time learning. Once you have tuned your ear to the language, you may want to learn it at your own pace. Consider taking classes or using language learning software. Get out some tapes from your local library and make sure that they contain translations/explanations in your own language, too.
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      3 Practice speaking and get feedback. Once you learn a few phrases, ask a friend (preferably a native speaker of the language you are learning) to listen to your pronunciation and correct it as necessary. Make sure they understand that you really want to achieve an authentic pronunciation; otherwise they will let you "get by" with errors you'd really like to fix.
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      4 Try to practice your language by recording yourself on a tape and listening to it. Be critical of your own accent, and practice until you match how it's supposed to sound.
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      5 Try to find internet resources in the language you are learning. Watching videos and listening to recordings online will help you learn the native accent. Practice them aloud as you go, too, and compare how you sound to how the native speaker sounds.
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      6 Try to do basic translations and/or interpreting in your language. Practice these aloud to work on pronunciation and accent.
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      7 Use visual reminders. Place vocabulary charts on your walls so that you can look at them often. Use other reminders around your home and workplace; for example, you can label items around your home or desk with both accurate spelling and pronunciation notes to help you learn.
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      Attached Files
      Last edited by Stone.Zhu; 01-09-2018, 04:31 AM.

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