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Getting rid of your English accent when speaking a foreign language

| 121 comments | Category: learning languages

telephoneRight, let’s get down to business! If you want to sound like a local, you need to work on many things and your foreigner accent is one of them. When I speak in English I’ve got a lovely wee (slightly watered down) Irish accent. However, when trying to speak my first foreign language I had an English (or more precisely, an anglophone) accent, which may not be particularly lovely.

This is no longer true for me. Now, no matter what language I take on, even in the beginning stages, people rarely take me for originally an English speaker. I still have a foreign accent, but they can’t place it and make guesses of what country I may be from, sticking to the west simply because of my appearance.

For me this is a huge improvement and I love to have them keep guessing until I reveal the truth. The best part of all, is that it means they are much less likely to speak English with me, which is extremely important for my own learning process. There are mistakes that many native English speakers make that will give them away, so I’d like to talk about that today. If you think that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” and you’ll never be able to lose your accent, try to keep an open mind because some of us don’t give up so easy ;)

The main culprit: pronunciation

Your accent is actually made up of so many different parts that all add up. You have word stress, sentence intonation, rhythm, the expressions you use and so much more. And each dialect has its own accent and peculiarities. Each of these deserves attention and work. But for our purposes, one of the most obvious ways you can give away having a “strong” anglophone accent, is by your mispronunciation of the foreign language.

You would think this would be easy enough, because most languages (unlike English) are phonetic (i.e. pronounced exactly how they are written, with very few exceptions). Unfortunately for learners, these pronunciations are sometimes not the same as in English, and some don’t resemble any sound in English. The French u, Czech ř, the guttural sound (e.g. “j” in European Spanish), and many others, require a lot of practise. But they can be learned! In fact, each of these sounds in themselves do not exist in plenty of other languages. An Italian for example may have just as much trouble learning them as you would.

Any of these sounds can be practised and you can learn them. However, not mastering them immediately will not necessarily give you away as an English speaker. When learning a particular language you may have to change how you pronounce certain consonants, making them longer or moving your tongue to a different position in your mouth etc., but there is one single sound that is highly associated with English speakers that reveal your “secret” immediately and you should work hardest on it if you don’t want it known immediately that English is your native language…

R

The sound made by pronouncing this letter is what gives us away quicker than anything else. To many foreigners this sound resembles a lazy dog howling. I haven’t come across any other language (yet) that uses R the way we do in English. Other consonant sounds aren’t that far off, e.g. Spanish b tends to be formed slightly closer to the mouth, but the difference is minor, so speaking with an English b initially isn’t that bad. However, an English r is nothing like it is for most languages that use the Latin alphabet.

I realized this early in my Spanish studies and worked hard to make sure I could roll my r. It wasn’t actually that hard! There are plenty of ways of learning how to pronounce that rolled r (which comes up in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Slavic languages and even helped me when trying to say words correctly in Hindi in India this year). You have to stop yourself from using the English “r” entirely. The rolled r actually resembles our l (“el”) more than it does our r.

Other languages, like French, make it more guttural, so the sound comes from about same position in your throat as it does for the letter g. For both the rolled and guttural r, I basically got a native with a lot of patience to explain mouth and throat positions to me and listen to me for a lot of time until I got it down pretty well. I know I still have to perfect my French r for example, but it’s not far off the actual sound. Practise makes perfect, and I intend to get it down correctly in each language I speak, and soon! There are lots of online resources that explain it technically that can help a lot, if you are trying too.

Consonant vowel relationships

Something else that is typically English (however it does exist somewhat in other languages) is whether the language is consonant or vowel based.

If my mission in Brazil was to be confused for a native (rather than a Brazilian), I could actually pack my bags and go home right now, because strangely enough a lot of Brazilians keep asking me if I’m Portuguese!! I’ve spent a total of 2 hours in Portugal (due to a flight transfer) so I’d love to claim that this is down to my own amazing talents, but it’s actually due to a very simple misunderstanding and only occurs with Brazilians who are just vaguely familiar with the Portuguese accent. The common trait? I am not pronouncing my vowels clearly enough.

When I ask French, Italian, Spanish etc. speakers they almost always mention this as a clear indication of me not being native. In English, we seem to love our consonants. The vowels take a back-seat as we gleam in pride about how pretty and clear our consonants are. We’ll gladly throw together several of them and muffle out the vowels as a mere separation. One example is the word “comfortable”, which we can say as “komftuh-bull” or “kamft-bill” or anything similar really, depending on your dialect or general mood! Where’s that second o?? Why isn’t the “a” pronounced as aah? Nobody really cares because each of the consonants is present and accounted for.

This is not the case in most Latin languages. The Portuguese translation, confortável needs each syllable to be pronounced very clearly, not just the stressed one. There needs to be no doubt about which vowel is in that syllable; I need to say “Kong-For-TAH-Veoo” (more or less), nice and clearly. Despite devoting the last 7 years almost entirely to Latin languages, I am still having trouble with this and will need to get over it soon if I want to succeed in this current mission. Doing so will also hugely help me with my other languages. I can do it no problem when you ask me to, but speaking quickly I tend to “eat” my syllables and mumble non-stressed vowels. This is because of the English language influence and I hear other English speakers do it all the time in foreign languages. We need to stop doing this!! Who’s with me? :)

On the plus side, as you may have guessed, in European Portuguese you tend to eat your vowels more than in Brazilian Portuguese (why they sometimes think I’m Portuguese here, despite the many other parts of that dialect I don’t emulate at all, and I’m sure the Portuguese would definitely beg to differ about me sounding anything like them!!). Also, Slavic languages like Czech go a step further and can have entire sentences without any vowels, so I didn’t have this lazy-vowel problem in Prague and could actually fool Czechs for an entire sentence or two to thinking that I was a local (if I picked the right sentence of course!)

Old dogs can learn new tricks, and I intend to learn this one ;) With time, your accent can “naturally” diminish, however this doesn’t happen organically for a lot of people. Sometimes you need to be more active and solve issues like this directly and simply practise them repeatedly until you get it right.

Do you think I’ll make it? Is getting rid of your anglophone accent not only possible, but possible in a short time as I claim? How about non-native English speakers who try to lose their accent in learning languages (I know there are lots of you reading this blog!) Let me know what you think and your experiences of trying, in the comments! :) Please share this post with your friends on Facebook, twitter, stumbleupon etc. if you found it interesting ;)

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  • http://molista.blogspot.com/ Glavkos

    Hey Benny ,
    i wish you have the best time down there in Rio and find the best solution to the accent problems you confront…
    My experience relatively to that is that my native tongue was russian until the age of nine. After that my family moved in greece where i learned greek very fast (let say in 3 months ) but i forgot totally the russian. Today , after 2 years private lessons au pair , i can say that i can speak with a russian , but not on a good level of a conversation. I try to read the books that i red at the age of 9 and i admitt that i have many difficulties.
    Is that ever possible to forget a languge ?
    I am suprised even about myself sometimes…Concerning my accent in russian , wich is not one of easiest , with so many different consonants like zh, z, ts, tsch, sh, shiou, etc… i hear contradictory things with people that i speak with…Sometimes they say that they dont find any foreing accent in my speach , and sometimes this seems to be quite obvious …
    What i think is that the key is to stay in touch with the language ( so that you can talk, read or listen ) and since you do that , maybe one day you will be able to pass as a local…Until then i can practise on the mirror since my russian girlfriend just left away…..
    my best wishes for your success

    • http://twitter.com/fluentitalian Ben Spragge

      There is a brilliant blogger (Tim Ferris) who wrote just the thing your looking for, “how to resurrect your high school Spanish… or any language”

      Otherwise, thanks Benny for this post! I’ve began a blog about speaking fluent italian in 90 days, and this is just what I was looking for (accent reduction)

  • http://molista.blogspot.com/ Glavkos

    Hey Benny ,
    i wish you have the best time down there in Rio and find the best solution to the accent problems you confront…
    My experience relatively to that is that my native tongue was russian until the age of nine. After that my family moved in greece where i learned greek very fast (let say in 3 months ) but i forgot totally the russian. Today , after 2 years private lessons au pair , i can say that i can speak with a russian , but not on a good level of a conversation. I try to read the books that i red at the age of 9 and i admitt that i have many difficulties.
    Is that ever possible to forget a languge ?
    I am suprised even about myself sometimes…Concerning my accent in russian , wich is not one of easiest , with so many different consonants like zh, z, ts, tsch, sh, shiou, etc… i hear contradictory things with people that i speak with…Sometimes they say that they dont find any foreing accent in my speach , and sometimes this seems to be quite obvious …
    What i think is that the key is to stay in touch with the language ( so that you can talk, read or listen ) and since you do that , maybe one day you will be able to pass as a local…Until then i can practise on the mirror since my russian girlfriend just left away…..
    my best wishes for your success

  • Jon

    wow i know a girl in your situation, Glavkos. She was adopted from Russia and was put through intensive language courses in the states at age 11. she had a hard time learning english, but now she is fluent. she even has an accent although you cant tell where she came from. and she doesn’t remember a word of russian. I have never understood how this could happen!!

    anyways… I do believe that one can lose their native accent and fit into another group of people if they wish. I plan to try this in Germany.

    good luck benny. I’m really hoping that you reach this goal. just so that you can motivate me to do it also =D

  • Jon

    wow i know a girl in your situation, Glavkos. She was adopted from Russia and was put through intensive language courses in the states at age 11. she had a hard time learning english, but now she is fluent. she even has an accent although you cant tell where she came from. and she doesn’t remember a word of russian. I have never understood how this could happen!!

    anyways… I do believe that one can lose their native accent and fit into another group of people if they wish. I plan to try this in Germany.

    good luck benny. I’m really hoping that you reach this goal. just so that you can motivate me to do it also =D

  • Lorenzo

    Hi Benny, my name’s Lorenzo and I’m Italian. First of all, my best congratulations on your website, which provides a lot of interesting information as well as valuable (and often original) advice – all very useful stuff for someone like me who has been very fond of languages since I was 13. For the record, as of today I have achieved a high or pretty high level of proficiency in English, Portuguese (Brazilian and Peninsular alike), German and French, as well as getting a smattering of Dutch, Spanish (which I can understand very well ) and Serbo-Croatian, and I’m now keen on practicing Russian.
    I taught myself Portuguese as a teenager and have since come across not a few Brazilians who have mistaken me for one of them as I opened my mouth. This happened several times during my first, two-week trip to Brazil four years ago, and even more frequently during my second stay in that country even though this only lasted one week! What’s more, this time I happened to get asked whether I was Brazilian even by a couple of Brazilian women who could speak Italian and would deal with my countrymen all the time because of their jobs, and despite the fact that both had heard me speaking Italian before that!! I was even more surprised when I got the same question from a cab driver in Maceió at the end of a 20-minute ride during which we had been chatting in Portuguese all the while. How could he possibly ask that in all seriousness?! After all, a 20 minute conversation is more than enough for a native to identify you as non-local based on your accent and speech, plus I was in the company of a non-Portuguese speaking Italian friend whom I exchanged a few words in Italian with during the ride, and last but not least I had even explained to the taxi driver shortly after we set off that I was working for the Public Administration back in Italy. And still he thought that I must be a fellow Brazilian because of the way I spoke, and he went on to say that my intonation clearly reminded him of a politician whose speeches he would occasionally hear on the radio!! It was simply amazing!

  • Lorenzo

    Hi Benny, my name’s Lorenzo and I’m Italian. First of all, my best congratulations on your website, which provides a lot of interesting information as well as valuable (and often original) advice – all very useful stuff for someone like me who has been very fond of languages since I was 13. For the record, as of today I have achieved a high or pretty high level of proficiency in English, Portuguese (Brazilian and Peninsular alike), German and French, as well as getting a smattering of Dutch, Spanish (which I can understand very well ) and Serbo-Croatian, and I’m now keen on practicing Russian.
    I taught myself Portuguese as a teenager and have since come across not a few Brazilians who have mistaken me for one of them as I opened my mouth. This happened several times during my first, two-week trip to Brazil four years ago, and even more frequently during my second stay in that country even though this only lasted one week! What’s more, this time I happened to get asked whether I was Brazilian even by a couple of Brazilian women who could speak Italian and would deal with my countrymen all the time because of their jobs, and despite the fact that both had heard me speaking Italian before that!! I was even more surprised when I got the same question from a cab driver in Maceió at the end of a 20-minute ride during which we had been chatting in Portuguese all the while. How could he possibly ask that in all seriousness?! After all, a 20 minute conversation is more than enough for a native to identify you as non-local based on your accent and speech, plus I was in the company of a non-Portuguese speaking Italian friend whom I exchanged a few words in Italian with during the ride, and last but not least I had even explained to the taxi driver shortly after we set off that I was working for the Public Administration back in Italy. And still he thought that I must be a fellow Brazilian because of the way I spoke, and he went on to say that my intonation clearly reminded him of a politician whose speeches he would occasionally hear on the radio!! It was simply amazing!

  • http://www.lingvoj.net/ lingovj
  • http://www.lingvoj.net lingovj
  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu/ balint

    About the English “R”.

    I learn Spanish at the moment and I’m listening a lot of podcast (notes in spanish, for the record) – made by a couple: a Spanish girl (woman?) and her English husband. And when the guy speaks Spanish, his “r”-s are quite a give away. In fact, now it annoys me that I got used to the beautiful natural Spanish intonation. It just sounds weird and forreign. He has been living in Spain more than 10 years and he still has that typical English accent which is, in my opinion, just pure laziness. Or is it that hard to loose? I don’t think so. I hope you will prove that! :)

    By the way, being a Hungarian native and having a lot of vowels and consonants in our alphabet (44 letters :D) gives a good head start in every foreign language – easy to adapt the new sounds, because chances are, we have something similar.

    Anyway, my Brazilian friends told me that they wouldn’t understand Portuguese, because it has totally different accent and pronounciation. Or maybe they are deaf. :D

    Anyway – good luck with this project, I’m sure you will do fine just like you did in Checz! :D
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Kreatív Spanyol =-.

    • nia

      his english r might be laziness or it might really not be possible for him to do the ‘spanish roll’. i know two people, one belgian one austrian who each speak 4 languages fluently who just CAN’T roll the r. The austrian guy was so frustrated by it that he saw a speech therapist. After 5 sessions she told him it might just not be possible for him.

      it’s a bit hard for me to imagine – but perhaps it’s impossible for some!?

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

        I disagree – “impossible” is an excuse, nothing more. People should not use this word to describe objectives that can’t be achieved unless it defies the laws of physics/biology (i.e. he is a mutant and his tongue has been malformed since birth). He can learn it. Either the speech therapist didn’t try hard enough or he didn’t try the right method (even if he’s trying hard and really wants it), or he needs to hear another explanation, or apply exercises of getting sounds ever closer to the rolled r. In 5 sessions he would have made even the slightest progress, even if he didn’t reach the goal. Some people just need more time compared to others ;)
        He might not find someone who can explain it to him the right way (if he gives up soon), but there is a right way ;) I hope he hasn’t given up. I try harder to prove people wrong when they tell me my objectives are impossible…

        • nia

          perhaps we can agree on ‘reasonable impossible’. Both of these people are REALLY good linguists, and truely are fluent in the languages they speak – not people who look for excuses.

          • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

            Agreed ;) Obviously I don’t know all the factors at play here so there may indeed be something preventing him from ever rolling that R. I hope he keeps trying though! :)

      • Sara

        I’ve had a huge issue with rolling my Rs now that I am learning Arabic.

        My #1 best tip:
        -Lie down with your head laying over an edge
        -Put two fingers in your mouth, pulling in two different directions so your mouth is stretched out
        -Make a gurgling noise (from the back of your throat, hopefully your spit will begin to vibrate – yes I just said that, and that is what we want cause eventually your tongue will vibrate too!)
        -Lastly, involve your tongue and try and touch it loosly to the roof of your mouth while doing all these above things.

        This sounds incredibly stupid but this was the thing that first allowed me to roll my Rs, as in actually get my tongue vibrating like it should. After you get it you can eventually stop lying on your back and sticking two fingers in your mouth (don’t worry).

        After that I have been practising so I get it right but I am still having trouble, not with rolling it on its own but using it with other letters.

    • Cleiton Freire

      I know this is old, but I just found it! :) Very nice stuff here.

      Well, I’m from Brazil and in my job I met at least 2 Americans living and working here for more than 2 years that still speaks English all the time and don’t know Portuguese. I think they are just too lazy to learn. A friend of mine who worked for 6 months in France, is unable to speak a complete sentence in french. They do not care.

      As of your Brazilian friends who claims they do not understand a Portuguese speaker, this is just too much. There is no such a thing, it is the same language!

  • http://otevotnyelv.blog.hu balint

    About the English “R”.

    I learn Spanish at the moment and I’m listening a lot of podcast (notes in spanish, for the record) – made by a couple: a Spanish girl (woman?) and her English husband. And when the guy speaks Spanish, his “r”-s are quite a give away. In fact, now it annoys me that I got used to the beautiful natural Spanish intonation. It just sounds weird and forreign. He has been living in Spain more than 10 years and he still has that typical English accent which is, in my opinion, just pure laziness. Or is it that hard to loose? I don’t think so. I hope you will prove that! :)

    By the way, being a Hungarian native and having a lot of vowels and consonants in our alphabet (44 letters :D) gives a good head start in every foreign language – easy to adapt the new sounds, because chances are, we have something similar.

    Anyway, my Brazilian friends told me that they wouldn’t understand Portuguese, because it has totally different accent and pronounciation. Or maybe they are deaf. :D

    Anyway – good luck with this project, I’m sure you will do fine just like you did in Checz! :D
    .-= balint´s last blog ..Kreatív Spanyol =-.

    • nia

      his english r might be laziness or it might really not be possible for him to do the ‘spanish roll’. i know two people, one belgian one austrian who each speak 4 languages fluently who just CAN’T roll the r. The austrian guy was so frustrated by it that he saw a speech therapist. After 5 sessions she told him it might just not be possible for him.

      it’s a bit hard for me to imagine – but perhaps it’s impossible for some!?

      • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

        I disagree – “impossible” is an excuse, nothing more. People should not use this word to describe objectives that can’t be achieved unless it defies the laws of physics/biology (i.e. he is a mutant and his tongue has been malformed since birth). He can learn it. Either the speech therapist didn’t try hard enough or he didn’t try the right method (even if he’s trying hard and really wants it), or he needs to hear another explanation, or apply exercises of getting sounds ever closer to the rolled r. In 5 sessions he would have made even the slightest progress, even if he didn’t reach the goal. Some people just need more time compared to others ;)
        He might not find someone who can explain it to him the right way (if he gives up soon), but there is a right way ;) I hope he hasn’t given up. I try harder to prove people wrong when they tell me my objectives are impossible…

        • nia

          perhaps we can agree on ‘reasonable impossible’. Both of these people are REALLY good linguists, and truely are fluent in the languages they speak – not people who look for excuses.

          • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

            Agreed ;) Obviously I don’t know all the factors at play here so there may indeed be something preventing him from ever rolling that R. I hope he keeps trying though! :)

  • http://pocketcultures.com/ Liz

    Thanks – this is an interesting post and there are lots of useful tips there. I still can’t pronounce the spanish r properly, after years of practice!

    I wouldn’t claim to speak any foreign language with a native accent, but people usually can’t tell I’m English, which I take to be a good sign like you do :-) (somone did ask me if I was Irish once, strangely enough I was speaking English at the time so I don’t know what that says about my English!)

    As well as pronunciation I also pay a lot of attention to the intonation within sentences as I think this is another big give-away for many foreign speakers. For example, where does the stress fall in different sentences, so they tail off or does the tone rise towards the end of the sentence etc

    I often hear people say that picking up accents depends on whether you have a ‘musical’ ear, I’d be interested to know what you think about that. While I strongly believe that everyone can learn to speak a foreign language with the right attitude and dedication, if this is true it means that pronunciation and accent can come more easily to some than others.

  • http://pocketcultures.com Liz

    Thanks – this is an interesting post and there are lots of useful tips there. I still can’t pronounce the spanish r properly, after years of practice!

    I wouldn’t claim to speak any foreign language with a native accent, but people usually can’t tell I’m English, which I take to be a good sign like you do :-) (somone did ask me if I was Irish once, strangely enough I was speaking English at the time so I don’t know what that says about my English!)

    As well as pronunciation I also pay a lot of attention to the intonation within sentences as I think this is another big give-away for many foreign speakers. For example, where does the stress fall in different sentences, so they tail off or does the tone rise towards the end of the sentence etc

    I often hear people say that picking up accents depends on whether you have a ‘musical’ ear, I’d be interested to know what you think about that. While I strongly believe that everyone can learn to speak a foreign language with the right attitude and dedication, if this is true it means that pronunciation and accent can come more easily to some than others.

  • Philippe

    Hello there,

    You mention you haven’t come across any other language (yet) that uses R the way we do in English. Well I would say the obvious example is Irish the way you speak it, and Welsh as far as I am aware. OK this is certainly an areal influence but I do not see why it should not count.
    Another example in Europe is Albanian, which actually has two “r” sounds: 1/ a long thrilled r such as the long Spanish “rr”, also written “rr” in Albanian (even at the very beginning of a word). 2/ a short English-like “r” written with the single letter. This is pronounced rather far back and in all positions, even after a vowel, much like in American English.

    Some Dutch pronounciations of “r” after vowels also quite approach the English one, such as in “naar” – not in all Dutch accents though.

    Mandarin Chinese also has a lot of American-English-like retroflex “r” sounds at the end of syllables.

    That is about all I can think of for the moment.

    • Loz

      Actually we do roll our ‘R’s in Welsh, so it’s not the same as in English!

      • Verrix

        Us Scots roll our ‘R’s too!!!

  • Philippe

    Hello there,

    You mention you haven’t come across any other language (yet) that uses R the way we do in English. Well I would say the obvious example is Irish the way you speak it, and Welsh as far as I am aware. OK this is certainly an areal influence but I do not see why it should not count.
    Another example in Europe is Albanian, which actually has two “r” sounds: 1/ a long thrilled r such as the long Spanish “rr”, also written “rr” in Albanian (even at the very beginning of a word). 2/ a short English-like “r” written with the single letter. This is pronounced rather far back and in all positions, even after a vowel, much like in American English.

    Some Dutch pronounciations of “r” after vowels also quite approach the English one, such as in “naar” – not in all Dutch accents though.

    Mandarin Chinese also has a lot of American-English-like retroflex “r” sounds at the end of syllables.

    That is about all I can think of for the moment.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

    Great comments everyone!! :)
    @Philippe Actually Irish has two Rs. One is slender and one is broad. The slender r (used when an i or e is close to it), used in words like rith (to run) does not sound like the broad r, which is indeed the same as in English. I imagine that the broad R may have been different in the past, but changed because of the English influence. I may be wrong about this, but to me that r is borrowed from English, not originally Irish. I imagine it’s the same in Welsh.
    I’ve also come across a dialect of Portuguese, usually near São Paulo, where Rs at the end of syllables sound somewhat English (as I would say them; not as strong as Americans but audible, unlike in British English ending Rs), but definitely not as distinctive. My point here is the distinctive R is very English in most languages that I’ve come across ;)
    @Glavkos & @Lorenzo
    Thanks to the two of you for sharing those interesting stories with us!!
    @Balint I’ve met a lot of English speakers who seem to refuse to want to give up their accent. If you try to correct them they will get very angry; accepting criticism and always trying to improve is extremely important and something I’ll be coming back to in a post soon. I’ve already lost my English R; I don’t need to prove that in this mission ;) I did it in just a couple of months when learning Spanish, so I don’t see why others can’t do it too! We just need to devote time specifically to it, rather than let it “naturally” disappear.
    @Liz I’d have to hear you speak to tell you what may be making the Irish accent ;) Very particular sounds include softening hard vowels at the end of words (we would pronounce “alright” as something like “alrigh-sh” for example), or pronouncing “th” the same as “t”.
    Intonation is extremely important, and I may write just about that another time, but just wanted to focus on pronunciation this time :) I was told in Spanish that I needed to stop applying so much intonation to sentences (as we do in English) because it makes a lot of statements sound like questions.
    As to the “musical ear”, that’s an interesting theory! I used to sing a lot (in several choirs and musicals) and can play some instruments. I did all of that as I was growing up, so that may have given me an advantage in language learning, even though I only started learning foreign languages properly in my 20s. I definitely analysed intonation musically for example, and if I write about it here, then I’ll explain it using musical terminology :)

    • nia

      regarding the welsh r – we’re all about the roll and it’s at least as long as in spanish – nothing english about it ;-)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

    Great comments everyone!! :)
    @Philippe Actually Irish has two Rs. One is slender and one is broad. The slender r (used when an i or e is close to it), used in words like rith (to run) does not sound like the broad r, which is indeed the same as in English. I imagine that the broad R may have been different in the past, but changed because of the English influence. I may be wrong about this, but to me that r is borrowed from English, not originally Irish. I imagine it’s the same in Welsh.
    I’ve also come across a dialect of Portuguese, usually near São Paulo, where Rs at the end of syllables sound somewhat English (as I would say them; not as strong as Americans but audible, unlike in British English ending Rs), but definitely not as distinctive. My point here is the distinctive R is very English in most languages that I’ve come across ;)
    @Glavkos & @Lorenzo
    Thanks to the two of you for sharing those interesting stories with us!!
    @Balint I’ve met a lot of English speakers who seem to refuse to want to give up their accent. If you try to correct them they will get very angry; accepting criticism and always trying to improve is extremely important and something I’ll be coming back to in a post soon. I’ve already lost my English R; I don’t need to prove that in this mission ;) I did it in just a couple of months when learning Spanish, so I don’t see why others can’t do it too! We just need to devote time specifically to it, rather than let it “naturally” disappear.
    @Liz I’d have to hear you speak to tell you what may be making the Irish accent ;) Very particular sounds include softening hard vowels at the end of words (we would pronounce “alright” as something like “alrigh-sh” for example), or pronouncing “th” the same as “t”.
    Intonation is extremely important, and I may write just about that another time, but just wanted to focus on pronunciation this time :) I was told in Spanish that I needed to stop applying so much intonation to sentences (as we do in English) because it makes a lot of statements sound like questions.
    As to the “musical ear”, that’s an interesting theory! I used to sing a lot (in several choirs and musicals) and can play some instruments. I did all of that as I was growing up, so that may have given me an advantage in language learning, even though I only started learning foreign languages properly in my 20s. I definitely analysed intonation musically for example, and if I write about it here, then I’ll explain it using musical terminology :)

    • nia

      regarding the welsh r – we’re all about the roll and it’s at least as long as in spanish – nothing english about it ;-)

  • Philippe

    Many thanks for your thoughts on how not to sound like where you come from, English version.

    As a Frenchman I am expected by all to have a strong accent in any language. In fact that expectation is so strong that people will sometimes more easily doubt my Frenchness (Frenchitude? Gallicity?) than just believe what they are seeing/hearing. I am sure you have similar experiences to report.

    I can really relate to your post showing English speakers how not to sound English. I have my own checklist for the native speaker of French which is of course different. But some aspects would be common, and may not be explicit in your text. May I borrow some of your blog space to try and share my views ? Or does this arrogance sound too French?

    Good pronounciation is not just good for the beauty of it. It will also teach your brain how to better hear the language you are learning. A new word or phrase will more easily find its place in your long-term memory if you feel you “own” the sounds it is in. In a way, good phonetics makes foreign languages less foreign to you.

    “Perfect” pronounciation is a different endeavour entirely, as you point out, yet even « just » good pronounciation will take work. The good news is you need not dedicate all of your concentration to it, all the time. Rehearse a bit and make sure you can pronounce some key words by really putting your mind -and tongue- to it. Read things aloud (OK this makes my wife crazy when we visit a foreign language city but it works for me like you have no idea!). When you notice you got a word wrong, repeat it better. This will put your brain in background learning mode and will get you a long way.

    Pronouncing another language right means you will change the way you sound in your own ears. It can feel awkward, like revealing a new facet of yourself, acting, putting on a mask… This is particularly strong for teenagers (and most of us start learning foreign languages as teens, baaaad timing) but it is also true in a lot of adults. Many adults have integrated this feeling so deep they will believe that their accent is quasi hard-coded in their genes. Yes, mastering a new accent reasonably well will occasionally make you feel different. Just accept it, that is the whole point and really the whole fun!

    Self-consciousness evaporates quickly when people congratulate you on your accent -or the lack thereof. Feel uncomfortable acting? Think of it as an extension of what you are, not a deception. People change hairstyle, makeup, clothes… all the time. People get drunk or high just for the sake of trying to feel different than their usual self. You will find changing the way you sound is a lot more economical, more useful and quite a lot safer for your social image than suddenly dying your hair green or going from streetwear to gothic to suit-and-tie, or passing out drunk. Or all of the above.

    My god that was long. I need to get back to work.

    Philippe

  • Philippe

    Many thanks for your thoughts on how not to sound like where you come from, English version.

    As a Frenchman I am expected by all to have a strong accent in any language. In fact that expectation is so strong that people will sometimes more easily doubt my Frenchness (Frenchitude? Gallicity?) than just believe what they are seeing/hearing. I am sure you have similar experiences to report.

    I can really relate to your post showing English speakers how not to sound English. I have my own checklist for the native speaker of French which is of course different. But some aspects would be common, and may not be explicit in your text. May I borrow some of your blog space to try and share my views ? Or does this arrogance sound too French?

    Good pronounciation is not just good for the beauty of it. It will also teach your brain how to better hear the language you are learning. A new word or phrase will more easily find its place in your long-term memory if you feel you “own” the sounds it is in. In a way, good phonetics makes foreign languages less foreign to you.

    “Perfect” pronounciation is a different endeavour entirely, as you point out, yet even « just » good pronounciation will take work. The good news is you need not dedicate all of your concentration to it, all the time. Rehearse a bit and make sure you can pronounce some key words by really putting your mind -and tongue- to it. Read things aloud (OK this makes my wife crazy when we visit a foreign language city but it works for me like you have no idea!). When you notice you got a word wrong, repeat it better. This will put your brain in background learning mode and will get you a long way.

    Pronouncing another language right means you will change the way you sound in your own ears. It can feel awkward, like revealing a new facet of yourself, acting, putting on a mask… This is particularly strong for teenagers (and most of us start learning foreign languages as teens, baaaad timing) but it is also true in a lot of adults. Many adults have integrated this feeling so deep they will believe that their accent is quasi hard-coded in their genes. Yes, mastering a new accent reasonably well will occasionally make you feel different. Just accept it, that is the whole point and really the whole fun!

    Self-consciousness evaporates quickly when people congratulate you on your accent -or the lack thereof. Feel uncomfortable acting? Think of it as an extension of what you are, not a deception. People change hairstyle, makeup, clothes… all the time. People get drunk or high just for the sake of trying to feel different than their usual self. You will find changing the way you sound is a lot more economical, more useful and quite a lot safer for your social image than suddenly dying your hair green or going from streetwear to gothic to suit-and-tie, or passing out drunk. Or all of the above.

    My god that was long. I need to get back to work.

    Philippe

  • Marisa

    Wow,this is an extremely cool blog!Thanks for offering this resource!

    I’ve actually been looking for something similar to this recently.I’m American,and was born in New York State(Long Island to be more specific,which is important,although I spent some time in Upstate New York when I was young).I moved to Florida when I was 6,but either due to learning early speech habits in New York,the fact that Florida is full of New Yorkers,or my mom and dad’s speech as an influence,I apparently retain a slight accent.It’s light enough that I was unaware I had it until I came to college(also in Florida),and had people tell me they noticed what they decribe as a residual accent.,but it’s kind of embarrassing and I’d really like to lose my accent in order to avoid the negative connotations it can portray–I’m not sure if this is widely known,but a New York accent is considered to be culturally similar to how the British view a Cockney accent.Besides the fact that I’ve gotten self-conscious about it,I worry it will prevent me from being taken seriously(I’m told I’m very articulate and express myself well,but I think we all know the semi-conscious effects an accent can have.)Can I employ similar techniques to this to try to get closer to a Standard American accent?Do the rules for changing accents WITHIN the same language apply as BETWEEN languages?

    (Also,please excuse my typing,I have several written-communication idiosyncracies as well.)

  • Marisa

    Wow,this is an extremely cool blog!Thanks for offering this resource!

    I’ve actually been looking for something similar to this recently.I’m American,and was born in New York State(Long Island to be more specific,which is important,although I spent some time in Upstate New York when I was young).I moved to Florida when I was 6,but either due to learning early speech habits in New York,the fact that Florida is full of New Yorkers,or my mom and dad’s speech as an influence,I apparently retain a slight accent.It’s light enough that I was unaware I had it until I came to college(also in Florida),and had people tell me they noticed what they decribe as a residual accent.,but it’s kind of embarrassing and I’d really like to lose my accent in order to avoid the negative connotations it can portray–I’m not sure if this is widely known,but a New York accent is considered to be culturally similar to how the British view a Cockney accent.Besides the fact that I’ve gotten self-conscious about it,I worry it will prevent me from being taken seriously(I’m told I’m very articulate and express myself well,but I think we all know the semi-conscious effects an accent can have.)Can I employ similar techniques to this to try to get closer to a Standard American accent?Do the rules for changing accents WITHIN the same language apply as BETWEEN languages?

    (Also,please excuse my typing,I have several written-communication idiosyncracies as well.)

  • DJ

    You are right on mark with all of these, especially the pronunciation of the “r.” That’s how I identify the language that someone’s speaking if I can’t immediately identify it. I speak Spanish, Turkish, and Russian, all of which have very different r’s, but people often mistake me for a native speaker (and yes, my native tongue is English) simply because I make sure I master the r.

  • DJ

    You are right on mark with all of these, especially the pronunciation of the “r.” That’s how I identify the language that someone’s speaking if I can’t immediately identify it. I speak Spanish, Turkish, and Russian, all of which have very different r’s, but people often mistake me for a native speaker (and yes, my native tongue is English) simply because I make sure I master the r.

  • Ed

    I love this blog, keep it up!

    The only place I know of with an R similar to the English / American R is the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. For example, they pronounce “idian” (“a little”) as “idiar”, which rhymes with the American pronunciation of “car”.

    As for trying to sound like a native, I’ve been told by 2 separate native speakers that I “don’t sound like a foreigner” when I speak German, by a professor that my Russian accent was “near native” (now mostly forgotten, alas), and my Chinese tutor said that my pronunciation of standard Mandarin made me “sound like a broadcaster”. I’m not really gifted in this or anything, but the tricks I use are these:

    1. Learn where in the mouth the language “lives”. This sounds weird & is the hardest to explain, but it’s sort of where I sense a “center of gravity” in my mouth when I pronounce the vowels.

    2. Learn the cadence of the language. Each language has its own sentence rhythm, and for me the best way to learn it is by listening to internet news broadcasts in that language. I leave them running for hours, and even if I don’t understand it, or I’m doing other things and not paying attention, the rhythms still seep in.

    3. Mumble. More specifically, listen to how the natives either run words together or let sentences trail off, or how they may take care to hit the stressed syllable in a word but sort of chew the rest of the word, and imitate it. This really only works once you’re comortable with what you’re saying and you’re now working on perfecting how you say it.

    If I have a problem with a particular sound in a language, I’ll ask my teacher/tutor to repeat it 4 or 5 times in a row while I listen intently with my eyes closed. This can be really helpful when the textbook English comparison is just a teensy bit off. For example, I kept mispronouncing the Chinese word “juede” (“to have an opinion”). I used this listening technique (to her annoyance!) & figured out that there’s an almost imperceptable R between the J and the U. My tutor disagreed with me and said there isn’t, but my adding that microscopic R made her admit it now sounded exactly right.

    BTW, my wife is tutoring some Brazilian immigrants she is quite impressed with your current endeavor. We both wish you well!

    • Neil Gratton

      I get exactly what you mean about where in the mouth the language lives – I really feel this, how the ‘centre’ of generation of the sounds changes when I switch between English and Spanish. With Italian, I’m finding that the rhythm of the language is especially important.

    • Chay

      I soooooo understand about the place in the mouth where the language “lives.” If I begin speaking Spanish for a while, like in class, I can literally feel my mouth and tongue shift to the back when I begin speaking English again, and vice versa.

  • Ed

    I love this blog, keep it up!

    The only place I know of with an R similar to the English / American R is the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. For example, they pronounce “idian” (“a little”) as “idiar”, which rhymes with the American pronunciation of “car”.

    As for trying to sound like a native, I’ve been told by 2 separate native speakers that I “don’t sound like a foreigner” when I speak German, by a professor that my Russian accent was “near native” (now mostly forgotten, alas), and my Chinese tutor said that my pronunciation of standard Mandarin made me “sound like a broadcaster”. I’m not really gifted in this or anything, but the tricks I use are these:

    1. Learn where in the mouth the language “lives”. This sounds weird & is the hardest to explain, but it’s sort of where I sense a “center of gravity” in my mouth when I pronounce the vowels.

    2. Learn the cadence of the language. Each language has its own sentence rhythm, and for me the best way to learn it is by listening to internet news broadcasts in that language. I leave them running for hours, and even if I don’t understand it, or I’m doing other things and not paying attention, the rhythms still seep in.

    3. Mumble. More specifically, listen to how the natives either run words together or let sentences trail off, or how they may take care to hit the stressed syllable in a word but sort of chew the rest of the word, and imitate it. This really only works once you’re comortable with what you’re saying and you’re now working on perfecting how you say it.

    If I have a problem with a particular sound in a language, I’ll ask my teacher/tutor to repeat it 4 or 5 times in a row while I listen intently with my eyes closed. This can be really helpful when the textbook English comparison is just a teensy bit off. For example, I kept mispronouncing the Chinese word “juede” (“to have an opinion”). I used this listening technique (to her annoyance!) & figured out that there’s an almost imperceptable R between the J and the U. My tutor disagreed with me and said there isn’t, but my adding that microscopic R made her admit it now sounded exactly right.

    BTW, my wife is tutoring some Brazilian immigrants she is quite impressed with your current endeavor. We both wish you well!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

    Thanks for these responses :)
    @Marisa Thanks for the response! I can’t comment much about accents and dialects within English, since I’ve never thought much about it other than throwing in a few American words when necessary in the conversation. Best of luck in trying to reach that “standard American” accent ;)

    @Ed Interesting to hear about the Mandarin R! Thanks for those tips! I naturally try to have a “position in the mouth” myself for each language; this is something I will be coming back to when talking about how not to mix up similar languages.
    The mumble aspect is quite important, but as I mention here, my natural “English mumbling” needs to be eliminated before I emulate foreign language equivalents.
    Thanks for the well wishes! Glad you are enjoying the blog :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

    Thanks for these responses :)
    @Marisa Thanks for the response! I can’t comment much about accents and dialects within English, since I’ve never thought much about it other than throwing in a few American words when necessary in the conversation. Best of luck in trying to reach that “standard American” accent ;)

    @Ed Interesting to hear about the Mandarin R! Thanks for those tips! I naturally try to have a “position in the mouth” myself for each language; this is something I will be coming back to when talking about how not to mix up similar languages.
    The mumble aspect is quite important, but as I mention here, my natural “English mumbling” needs to be eliminated before I emulate foreign language equivalents.
    Thanks for the well wishes! Glad you are enjoying the blog :)

  • Elthyra

    Great post! I’m one of those non-English speakers trying to lose my accent, but I’ve always had problems getting rid of my French accent when speaking English. The worst thing seems to be my inability to correctly stress words, although I’m often complimented on my English, I sometimes get immensely frustrated by some words, for example the aforementioned ‘comfortable’ and most words ending in ‘-able’. Surprisingly, when I speak Italian or Spanish, I have an American accent, not a French one! Or so say my Italian teacher and my Spanish friends.

  • Elthyra

    Great post! I’m one of those non-English speakers trying to lose my accent, but I’ve always had problems getting rid of my French accent when speaking English. The worst thing seems to be my inability to correctly stress words, although I’m often complimented on my English, I sometimes get immensely frustrated by some words, for example the aforementioned ‘comfortable’ and most words ending in ‘-able’. Surprisingly, when I speak Italian or Spanish, I have an American accent, not a French one! Or so say my Italian teacher and my Spanish friends.

  • http://vladdolezal.com/blog/ Vlad Dolezal

    Heh, when you started speaking about the French r being made back in the throat, I started playing with it, sliding it from all the way at the front to all the way at the back.

    Then I burst out laughing, because I realized I sounded just like a Wookie from Star Wars :D
    .-= Vlad Dolezal´s last blog ..Stop Boring Conversations – Answering Questions Indirectly =-.

  • http://vladdolezal.com/blog/ Vlad Dolezal

    Heh, when you started speaking about the French r being made back in the throat, I started playing with it, sliding it from all the way at the front to all the way at the back.

    Then I burst out laughing, because I realized I sounded just like a Wookie from Star Wars :D
    .-= Vlad Dolezal´s last blog ..Stop Boring Conversations – Answering Questions Indirectly =-.

  • Ed

    Benny,
    Regarding my earlier post, here’s a blog post I found about the infamous Beijing “R” sound, though the example sound clips are harder to hear than I’d like:

    http://www.bjshengr.com/bjs/2008/01/does-the-beijing-r-mean-anything/

    My tutor says that other Mandarin speakers think the Beijing pronunciation – especially replacing final consonants with an “r” – is “cute”… but that it’s considered pretentious to use it if you’re not a naitive Beijinger.

  • Ed

    Benny,
    Regarding my earlier post, here’s a blog post I found about the infamous Beijing “R” sound, though the example sound clips are harder to hear than I’d like:

    http://www.bjshengr.com/bjs/2008/01/does-the-beijing-r-mean-anything/

    My tutor says that other Mandarin speakers think the Beijing pronunciation – especially replacing final consonants with an “r” – is “cute”… but that it’s considered pretentious to use it if you’re not a naitive Beijinger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edgar-Roock/732386640 Edgar Roock

    “Comftbl” is a good exsample for swallowed vowels in English. I can think of another one in the same league: “sposd” (supposed)…

  • Ashley

    Your advice on understanding that some languages stress vowels really helps. As an American whose accent in French fools even the French (they usually can't place my accent, and when I was living abroad one time some family members of a French friend thought I was native for a few seconds. Then my horrendous grammar and limited vocabulary gave it away ;-), I did a lot of tricks to improve my accent, as I hated hearing the American twang in such a lovely language. I studied conversational Japanese for one summer in high school, where I realized that Americans tend to have more “dipthongs” in our vowels, instead of saying “pure” vowels. So we slide our vowels at the end of words, think of “a” like in “day” versus the “é” in French. That helped tremendously, to start dropping the practice of dipthongs except of course, where they actually exist.

    Understanding that we break up words differently helps. For example, in English, having a vowel followed by two consonants usually changes the length of the vowel, e.g. rudder (rud-der) versus ruder (ru-der). And Americans tend to not voice vowels by themselves, like amity. Instead of saying “a-mi-ty”, it sounds as if there's two “m” and two “t” in quick succession, (am-mit-ty). In French, they tend to voice the initial vowel by itself, like in amitie would be a–mi-ti-e. Knowing how to break up the words properly helps us to pronounce the vowels less like American vowels because the consonant that follows tends to change the sound of the preceding vowel (see the example of rudder versus ruder.)

    My high school French teacher had us do mouth and tongue calisthenics. We spoke French with a pencil in our teeth to get drop our mouth habits acquired when speaking English (maybe it was to implicitly get rid of our emphasis on consonants, which require slightly more mouth movements, and to let us focus on vowels). I asked about tongue placement and tried different postures where I spoke more with my throat or diaphragm. And she gave us French poems and tongue twisters to memorize, plus sentences that focused on a particular phonetic sound, and then sentences that threw similar phonetic sounds all together. Example: Un bon enfant.

    And watching loads of French films, news, and singing to French music. This I discovered after talking to Scandinavian, Dutch, and one Spanish friend who all spoke English with nearly no accent despite having never been to the U.S. With the exception of my Spanish friend, my Dutch and Scandinavian friends had grown up listening to English on TV since the shows and films were only subtitled and not dubbed. My Spanish friend had been addicted to American rap, which requires a very special ear for cadence, rhythm, intonation, and pronunciation in order to keep up with the beat. So much karoake to Carla Bruni and French rap (to the chagrin of my neighbors) and French cinema it was!

  • Kelinda la mas linda

    This is an Uh-mazing blog post. I am a 14 y/o who is passionately interested in learning languages. I am currently pursuing Spanish. Next, I want to get into Latin, so it will be easier for me to study other romance languages. Any tips for me? I am really interested in this field, and my bucket list is to learn and actively use at least 5 languages. Thanks for the help:)

  • Kim

    I just found your blog today and am really enjoying it! I'm not as far along in my language-learning as you seem to be, but I'm currently working on my fourth(ish) language. And so far, my English accent has been my biggest frustration, particularly when it comes to Japanese and Korean. The main issue for me, though, is less that I resign myself to sounding like an American and more that I have a god-awful ear for accents. I've worked tirelessly on my Korean consonants, but I still have trouble distinguishing some of them.

    Do you know of a good way to improve on things like this? I can barely make out UK accents from each other, let alone emulate an entirely foreign accent.

  • http://twitter.com/chinaquest Alvin

    I was thinking of Mandarin myself as an exception to the rule possibly, although there are many different pronunciation issues learning Mandarin than just the R. The R specifically can be similar to an english R, but often is actually closer to a Spanish “ll” pronounced with a fricative as is the case in some variations of spanish. So even there, the non-fricative, non-rolled English 'R' isn't exactly the same.

  • http://twitter.com/chinaquest Alvin

    What I've discovered, Kim, in teaching myself Mandarin, is that it is useful to listen to the words without seeing the spelling. I am using Rosetta Stone, which allows me to enable pinyin (latin alphabet) or chinese text or both. I found that when I kept the pinyin text visible, I had a harder time getting a grasp on the sound I was trying to make. When I turn off pinyin, I don't have the familiar latin text to guide me, so I have to reproduce what I hear. I'm not sure how much this will help you with Japanese & Korean, but that's my 2 cents.

  • http://inf.ufrgs.br/~vbuaraujo Vítor De Araújo

    “I haven’t come across any other language (yet) that uses R the way we do in English.”

    I believe Faroese 'r' is just like English 'r'…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faroese_language

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~riende9/dioula.html Jerry

    Great comments about accents – the learner is using the pronunciation rules of his/her mother tongue while attempting to speak the new language, hence many accents are easy to pick out. Deliberately getting rid of one's accent is a laudable goal, but it will always be there to some small extent, especially if (1) we're using the language all day and (2) we're getting tired. Speaking from experience there.

    Re the English-language “r”: its phonetic name is the “cupped r”, taken from the shape one's mouth takes to form it, as opposed to the trilled r, which you noted. The easiest way to demonstrate the trilled r in English is by pronouncing the word “butter” in the American, not the British (or Irish?) fashion. There it is in all its glory.

    The Chinese “r” in the initial placement is sort of a combination of the cupped r and the sound that the “s' makes in the word pleasure. “Renshi ni wo hen gaoxing” (Pleased to meet you) gives a good example of the sound in that part of an utterance. As another commenter noted, its English equivalent is even more obvious in the terminal spot, as in “ydianr' (“a little”, pronounced ee-dee-are). Only Chinese linguists know why the unpronounced “n” is in the pinyin spelling of that word!!

  • CCS

    Indeed, I used to describe Beijinghua as “pirate Chinese”–not because of any sea-thieving tendencies but because they go “Arrr, arrrr!” all the time, like movie pirates. ;)

  • fsilber

    It's interesting what you say about the pronunciation of the letter `R'. Newspaper columnist Dave Barry once pointed out that the letter `R' is mispronounced in most foreign languages, and to speak those languages like a native one must learn to mispronounce it the same way native speakers do.

  • http://www.learnspanishfastcourse.com/ Fast Jay

    The rolling “r” of spanish is indeed one of the tricky points of the language. And yes, during my stay in spain i noticed that a lot of native english speakers don't even try to roll the r somewhat.

    I'd say my r was halfway there, but now, in the last two months i've been practising it a bit more and paying attention to it, and you really can advance fast, it's just about practise and getting your mouth/tongue used to the new movements. You can compare it to a sport, it takes some time to master the technique.

  • http://twitter.com/Mneiae Caroline L

    The only other language that I speak with conversational fluency is Spanish. My teacher from Pais Vasco told us that we no longer sounded American, but we did not sound Spanish. My principal told me that I sound French when I speak Spanish and on the way back to the States, a random guy on the plane told me I sounded Italian. I do not know why this is.

  • xxdb

    Hmmm. You may be interested to note the exception to the “r” thing.
    In Mexican spanish spoken near the US border, they tend to pronounce the r more or less the same as we do. The Spanish r in Spain is much more pronounced and similar to the Scottish r. If you listen to a Spaniard say “pero” and a Mexican say “Perro” it sounds pretty similar…

  • xxdb

    Exactly.
    I have learned Spanish by watching TV and hanging around with Mexicans.
    I can read it now, but I sometimes find myself surprised by how it's written.
    I believe that if you learn a language from a *book* then your native pronunciation of the letters will *for ever* influence your pronunciation.
    I tried learning some Russian words just from a cassette tape and tried them out on a friend from the Ukraine. He said that nearly all foreigners have a crap accent that makes their Russian sound horrible but mine was neutral sounding and very well pronounced.
    Conversely, on the other hand, I tried to learn some mandarin from chinesepod and I clearly remember a phrase that sounds (something like) “wachou Jenny Wong” meaning I'm called Jenny Wong. When I tried it with my own name, my Chinese friend couldn't understand me at all. He said what I was saying sounds like the English “Watch Out” and was nothing like what I should have been saying.

    That said, I still lean towards that learning the basics of pronunciation by listening to a whole bunch of spoken words is the best method for learning pronunciation and is way, way better than learning written….

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    I wouldn't really call that an “exception”, it's more of a strong influence from English for obvious reasons. It could also be that they simply don't speak Spanish that well… In standard Mexican Spanish (at least in the little I've been exposed to it), the r sounds nothing like in English.

  • http://lacanadienseinspain.blogspot.com/ cass

    For some people it IS impossible to roll the R's — indisputable evidence: I know a native Spanish speaker, a Spaniard who has never left Spain, who cannot do it. I just felt compelled to mention that although this post is really old haha… But I do agree that most people can learn, I have myself.

  • Abby

    My husband is a native Egyptian, and has lived about 1/2 of his life (31 years) in the U.S. He learned English here, in Cincinnati, actually, so often speaks with a very “Ohioan” accent. He used to re-gain his Egyptian accent when he was tired, about 10 years ago, but now, he almost speaks Arabic with an “ohio” accent most of the time. We visited Egypt last year, and only after 2 weeks of being in an Arabic saturated environment was he able to speak Arabic with the “correct” Egyptian accent.
    I am loving this blog, because I need to learn Egyptian Arabic, as we are moving there in 16 months. All my husband's family speaks English, his mother is an English teacher, which has made it very difficult for me to pick up the language, and my husband is not that motivated to help me learn it, either.

  • http://www.renegadeyogi.com/ Eric Normand

    I would suggest picking a few sentences and drilling them out loud. Start slowly, pronounce everything very well, and repeat repeat repeat. You are training your muscles, here.

  • http://mavericktraveler.com/blog ElGuapo

    Interesting. My native language is Russian and I moved to The States around age 11. My Russian is still fluent, and although I have a NY accent, some people were able to pickup a trace of Russian in it (only NY'ers). English of course is the easiest for me to read and write.

  • http://mavericktraveler.com/blog ElGuapo

    Nothing wrong with a NY accent. I myself have a bit of a Brooklyn accent, and I don't mind it at all. Staten Island accent is a bit strong though.

  • http://mavericktraveler.com/blog ElGuapo

    Agreed. Mexican 'R' sounds absolutely nothing like American 'R'

    • Becky Salami

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  • http://whitehindu.blogspot.com cm

    Do you have a post about your experiences in India? I would love to hear about how you learned to pronounce Hindi, since that's the language I am learning.

  • http://tajik-birth.livejournal.com/ Jamie

    Hey, I'm coming late to the party but *love* your site. I started languages like you did – older than anyone thought it possible and with Spanish. Luckily, I was completely immersed in the language by outside influences and learned it really quickly. Unluckily, I thought that meant I was just a genius and next took on Russian by studying it in school – I ended up with a minor but without speaking the lanuage. Now I'm in Tajikistan, speaking Russian and Persian/Tajik, neither as expertly as I'd like. At any rate, I find this blog super inspiring.

    I think that maybe Dominicans were just really polite, but they were constantly telling me I had no accent at all, and that other than being white they'd think I was one. I don't know if I'd go that far, but my accent wasn't recognizable as American to most people. I did spend a lot of work on sounds like r and l, but on some of the “easier” things I found out later that there was a “trick” to the sound and then I'd realize I was already doing it. Things like pronouncing b and v a bit more like the English b a the start of a word and more like a v in in the middle. Or adding a bit of a “th” to “d”s. I got all of that by spending the vast majority of my time with native speakers *and* thinking of myself as a “we” with them. I don't pick up an accent if I don't identify with the people around me. While the overt work was necessary, I was able to do a bunch subconsciously by going from “me/them” to “we/us.”

    As far as consonants/vowels go, I always feel like I'm using an entirely different mouth when I'm speaking in Spanish and I've got my accent on. That's certainly helped me with Tajik, though they don't do things so cleanly.

  • http://mavericktraveler.com mavtraveler

    One more place I found an R similar to the English R, and that is Brazilian Portuguese spoken in Sao Paulo. Their R gives them easily away as being from Sao Paulo.

  • http://mavericktraveler.com mavtraveler

    Agreed about Russian learned by foreigners sounding terrible. I can pick up a foreigner in the first one or two words.

    I have met some people who spoke fluent Russian but the accents are usually terrible. Even for people who've lived in Russia for 5 years or more, speaking fluently but of course I can tell they're not from there.

    I'm convinced you gotta be born there or at least move there when young to have no accent.

    • PlasticBiddy

      .

  • joyesmith

    These are really wonderful tips given by you , because this is a vital issue while learning any foreign language, because english ascent makes your way of speaking any language odd to listen

    http://www.airticket.co.uk/

  • Audrey

    These are actually pretty good tricks :) Only now if they would work for losing my french accent it would be great haha :) I dig languages like you, currently learning my 3rd, which is german. And since I discovered your blog (about 2 days ago) I have been devouring your articles!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Thanks! Glad to see you are enjoying the blog!

  • ewan

    Great post, I’m just disappointed that you don’t speak Swedish so you could give me some tips on losing my accent. I’ve gotten rid of my English ‘r’, so I’m going to try thinking about my vowel consonant relationships. Thanks for the tip.

    Also, I learnt French with the total immersion method (worked in France in a French speaking holiday resort for 6 months). Although I spoke fluently by the end, my accent was a terrible English one. I heard your french accent in your video – it’s great! congratulations.

  • Lienwenli

    Hi. My name is Mindy, and I’m a polyglot studying in Taiwan. (Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin, some German, French, Italian). I would like to talk to you about language learning. This semester I learned a lot of helpful stuff about collocations, corpora, and vocabulary in L2 language acquisition. Maybe I could share some frequency information and my research. I was very interested in your comments on pronunciation.
    Have a nice journey!

  • Christophe Clugston

    Actually the Hindi ‘r’ is nothing like the ‘r’ in English. The English ‘r’ in the North American variety is rhotized and the Hindi ‘r’ is retroflexed. The Spanish ‘r’ is trilled only in initial or final position–it’s flapped in medial positions. Costa Ricans, however, flap ‘r’ more than trill ‘r’ The French ‘r’ is uvular and gives Anglophones the most problems. As Berlitz said, “IF you are multilingual you will always be judged on how well you speak French.” As for Spanish consonants–they are dentalized. French uses a different point of articulation than does the English which accounts for the overwhelming aspiration English speakers have in other languages (since it is not distinctive in English they are never aware of this–hurts them greatly in languages like Thai where it is distinctive)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      “Actually”, I don’t know who you are arguing with. I never said the Hindi R was like the English one..

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks! I’d love to spend some time at a ski resort some day! Touristy areas like that are actually great for practising multiple languages :)

  • Joanna

    Just about an English-like “r” in other languages: I am not perfectly sure but I think there is an “r” like that in Albanian.

  • Joanna

    Just about an English-like “r” in other languages: I am not perfectly sure but I think there is an “r” like that in Albanian.

  • http://twitter.com/maktubhelou Mark Evans

    Interesting blog. I’m really loving the Irish twist on things. You know, there is at least one other language that has the same “r” sound as English (I should say North American or Irish English). Maybe you came across this while you were in Brazil. In some parts of the state of Sao Paulo you’ll find that the “r” some positions sounds very similar, if not identical to that odd English “r” we have. When I was staying in Itu, about 1 hour from the capital, I kept thinking my Brazilian friends were making fun of my English accent until they explained that it’s the way they always pronounce their “r”s.

    • Br. Francis Therese Krautter

      Exactly the same experience I had!  I thought they were mocking my Portuguese, but São Paulo uses a more or less English sounding R.

  • http://twitter.com/maktubhelou Mark Evans

    Interesting blog. I’m really loving the Irish twist on things. You know, there is at least one other language that has the same “r” sound as English (I should say North American or Irish English). Maybe you came across this while you were in Brazil. In some parts of the state of Sao Paulo you’ll find that the “r” some positions sounds very similar, if not identical to that odd English “r” we have. When I was staying in Itu, about 1 hour from the capital, I kept thinking my Brazilian friends were making fun of my English accent until they explained that it’s the way they always pronounce their “r”s.

  • http://twitter.com/maktubhelou Mark Evans

    Interesting blog. I’m really loving the Irish twist on things. You know, there is at least one other language that has the same “r” sound as English (I should say North American or Irish English). Maybe you came across this while you were in Brazil. In some parts of the state of Sao Paulo you’ll find that the “r” some positions sounds very similar, if not identical to that odd English “r” we have. When I was staying in Itu, about 1 hour from the capital, I kept thinking my Brazilian friends were making fun of my English accent until they explained that it’s the way they always pronounce their “r”s.

  • http://twitter.com/maktubhelou Mark Evans

    Interesting blog. I’m really loving the Irish twist on things. You know, there is at least one other language that has the same “r” sound as English (I should say North American or Irish English). Maybe you came across this while you were in Brazil. In some parts of the state of Sao Paulo you’ll find that the “r” some positions sounds very similar, if not identical to that odd English “r” we have. When I was staying in Itu, about 1 hour from the capital, I kept thinking my Brazilian friends were making fun of my English accent until they explained that it’s the way they always pronounce their “r”s.

  • Henry Raymont

    I am fluent in German, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.  And I am very good at imitating accents in Russian, French, Norwegian, Finnish, and, believe it or not, ‘Puelto Lican’–not to mention Cuban and Guatemalan.  So if you have any movie sound-overs or some such thing, pls let me know. 

  • Henry Raymont

    I am fluent in German, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.  And I am very good at imitating accents in Russian, French, Norwegian, Finnish, and, believe it or not, ‘Puelto Lican’–not to mention Cuban and Guatemalan.  So if you have any movie sound-overs or some such thing, pls let me know. 

  • Agent 755, gender offender.

    I’m kind of proud of my accent, although being able to slip out of it would be amusing.

  • Lala

    In my accent of portuguese(sometimes called “caipira”) we use the english “r” in the Rs in the end of the syllabes( porta, cor, mar…)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    I’ve never heard any Brazilian pronounce an ‘l’ at the end of a syllable. Perhaps there’s a dialect I don’t know of? Or maybe your understanding of an ‘l’ is very different to mine. Technically they do pronounce “l” in Brasil etc., but they pronounce it as “oo”.

  • Anonymous

    I thought it really interesting and it’s useful. Many people think that a accent reduce will make ‘em a (un)real local native, but our accent is our identification :) I think we need to learn the right sound of the vowels, consonants (pronunciation), instead..it’s just like that ;) I liked so much this post Benny!   “Old dogs can learn new tricks” (I’m with ya)

  • emily_horch

    I know I can never totally lose my accent, but like you, I sure do like to confuse people.  I’m American, but have been told in the UK, “Oh, you don’t have such a strong US accent”, when it’s just that I adapt my cadence and vocabulary so that people don’t constantly ask me to repeat myself.  In German I have a French accent (although it’s less than it used to be, yay!), in Spanish I have an Italian accent.  In French and Italian they can’t seem quite to place it.  Usually being a parrot is a GOOD thing, the only place I am ashamed to say that it fails me is in Ireland.  I just can’t help but copy those lovely ‘r’s, which comes out a little on the odd side as the rest of my speech is clearly American.  My funniest experience was in Venice, where an American (with a DEEP south accent) asked me directions.  I answered and he accused me of having a funny Italian accent to my English, when he had the strongest southern accent I’d ever heard.  I’ve noticed other anglophones also tend to take on the cadence of the local language when speaking English, especially if they’ve been there a long time and rarely speak English.  Accents are fascinating things!

  • http://profiles.google.com/fabermcmullen Faber McMullen

    I learned Spanish when I was about 17 years old by being immersed in El Salvador for 3 months.  I had the American accent at first and then I began imagining how the little cartoon character “Speedy Gonzales” used to talk (it is probably politically incorrect now to have the cartoon on TV).  I immediately overcame the “gringo” accent by speaking in a very exaggerated Mexican accent.  It put me right about in the place I needed to be and everyone began complimenting me on my accent.  Perhaps I can do something similar with my Irish.  It is the hardest language I have ever encountered.  I speak less of it after two and half years of study than I did after studying Spanish for 6 weeks.  If I were able to converse with someone all day I think I could learn it maybe in 3 months.

  • fsilber

    It is helpful to have a couple of drinks before practicing speech.  Unlike children, adults are naturally too self-conscious to make silly sounds while speaking — and making silly sounds is exactly what is required when imitating a foreign accent.

  • montmorency

    I think it is important to try to reduce your native accent when speaking a foreign language. Some of us can remember the famous clip of Edward Heath speaking French in an excruciating English accent, and it makes us cringe.

    The article title put me in mind of the wonderful “America” from West Side Story (film version), which although it was making a social, rather than linguistic point, includes the lines:

    “Anita:I’ll get a terrace apartment

    Bernardo:
    Better get rid of your accent”

  • ChocaToubab

    Great article! I’m an American who speaks both Spanish and French.

    I have had many people tell me that I should be PROUD of my foreign accent because it is “cute” or it “makes me unique.” But I much prefer whenever I am mistaken as a native speaker! (or when they simply can’t place my accent… always better, at least, than being pinpointed as the American)

    I think it particularly helps when you change countries within a language:
    —I learned my Spanish in Bolivia and now in all other Spanish speaking countries they think I’m a native from another Spanish speaking country (often Argentina since I’m white but don’t attempt the Spanish z).
    —I learned my French in France and during 4 months in Senegal I reveled in everyone assuming I was French! Gotta love it.

  • Jim

    Great stuff! I’m originally from Ireland myself but currently living in Amsterdam. I grew up partly in Wales and I find if I exaggerate the Welsh accent when speaking Dutch then it disguises me quite well (maybe because this accent is so difficult to understand in English). My Da always said the Swansea and Cork accent are quite similar due to the connection between the two ports, and both share melodic undertones, I thought you would find this interesting, if not aware of it.

    Anyway, I was wondering how far you progressed in writing and reading these languages? It seems to me that learning first to speak might be a hindrance to learning to write because you may have different spellings in your head while speaking.

  • The_Real_Polyglot

    If you are able to assume the personality of the language and immerse yourself in its culture, your accent automatically goes away. You become a local! This is much more difficult to achieve than being able to converse without grammatical mistakes. A language without its soul is a boring one, culture and personality first!

  • Tammo love

    This is really an interesting article
    So we are kinda related in somehow, I’ve been in Canada for two years so far and when I first arrived here, my english was sorta not clear. Sometimes I had to repeat some stuff so the person I’m talking to gets what I’m saying. After one year and a half maybe, my accent got really good like even some Canadians thought that I was actually born here. However, I’m still working on getting rid of my accent coz it really bothers me when I hear it myself. The thing that is in common between us, is that people can’t acutally guess where is my accent from!! some think that I was born here, others think that I’m Spanish or European coz of my appearance”my face I mean”, and when I tell them where I’m basicly from they go like WOW we could never guess that.

  • Ryan

    I have been learning Portuguese after studying Spanish since early childhood, and the vowel heights are really a killer! But you gotta remember that even in English we have words, usually shorter, where the vowels play a huge role. For example: bag, beg, big, bog, bug. Or sheet and shit, beach and bitch; hilarious minimal pairs.

    Bag and beg sound similar to a Spanish speaker whereas they sound like “bég” and “bêg” to an (Algarve) Portuguese speaker. Big and beg also sound similar to both the Portuguese and the Spanish, and some Americans (think pin/pen).

    Another thing you alluded to was the “connotation” problem. Most Americans who try to say words with a lot of vowel reductions in other Latin languages fail hilariously. Take “connotación”. It’s easy to write, but nearly impossible for Americans to say: always winding up with something similar to “ka.na.ta’shon” which is incomprehensible!

  • Steve

    Hi, I found this

    website today and have been reading through a bunch of pages and it was
    inspiring me to at least consider learning another language.

    I am well into my 40’s, currently only speak English and I
    have all the excuses and reasons that Benny mentions in various places
    throughout the site and I was trying to look past that and then I found this
    page and to me it made it sound so extremely complicated that it killed off all
    of the inspirational feelings I had when I first encountered the site.

    I’ll stick them under the headings of excuses as deep down I
    know them to be that, but my knowledge of grammar is appalling. “Consonant
    vowel relationships” for example, I don’t even know what defines a consonant or
    a vowel. And that is just one thing, I look through the comments and I am even
    more confused and discouraged because of all the example of pronouncing this
    and that, it makes it sound so hard.

  • Timothy Clark

    This is my 4th (or 5th, lost count by now) day of learning Irish. My biggest frustration so far has been pronunciation and dialects. Since I don’t know any native speakers, I’m relying on audio and a pronunciation guide. I’ve been drilling myself with different lists of Irish vocabulary words. I say the words how I think they sound based on the guide and then play the audio. I’m beginning to improve now getting 6 out of 10 right. How do you deal with different pronunciations especially diphthongs and triphthongs? I’ve sworn off grammar for now (thanks to your posts). I’m also memorizing phrases, vocabulary, and basic pronouns and prepositions in order to make sentences.

  • Janna

    It’s funny you mention the English ‘R’. In some varieties of Dutch, that very same ‘R’ is used (which I think you know, based on some later articles you wrote). Now, I happen to speak one of those varieties of Dutch very well (it’s my native tongue). However, when I was in the south of the Netherlands asking for directions to a bus stop (in Dutch), the person I asked suspected I was from the UK.
    Needless to say I was both amused and insulted (my native language! and I sound like a foreigner to another native speaker), but I didn’t really understand why someone would take me for an Englishman until a friend of mine pointed out the ‘R’-thing.
    It still doesn’t excuse my southerly countryman, but I’ve forgiven him. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/claudia.marseglia.7 Claudia Marseglia

    Beautiful post!! The biggest mistake Italians make when speaking English is pronouncing the consonants as they would in Italian. And, of course, also stressing the wrong sillable in a word and the wrong word in a sentence!

  • http://twitter.com/HappyCat716 HappyCat711

    I lived in Costa Rica for 6 months in my teens. I learned Spanish pretty well, had people comment that my pronunciation was very good. I have found that I often speak other languages with a Spanish accent. Probably more of a Spanglish accent, but not strictly Anglophone. Thank you for your articles and all your work!

  • An

    Hehe:)
    An interesting topic indeed!

    I`m native Latvian, and in Latvia, the “r” sound is rolled. However, I couldn`t learn it for almost for all my childhood and used something like French r sound (guttered) instead of it. (Never been in France though.) So i got quite accustomed to my incorrect “r”, and only after a long time (at about age 17), because of uncomfortability while talking and hearing myself saying “r” a bit strange, i learned how to tell “r” correct in Latvian. It took quite a learning time!
    While at secondary school, i had a classmate who seemed to do exactly the same thing. Sometimes it`s a difficult thing for natives as well!

  • FRANCISKA

    I will like to share my testimony to you all.I just got married to my husband about a year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side.i have never love any man in my life except him.he is the father of my children and i don’t want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today.few month ago he now decided to live me and the kids,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.OLOKUN how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other.i was directed to DR.OKOKUN and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband.he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK.So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him.i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact him email.Dr olokun of the great benin kingdom(priestolokun1@yahoo.com)or call his tel.+2347051841955

  • Nancy

    Husbands really need to be careful of other woman outside their marriage,this was a true life story that happened to me to my own notice my sister took my husband from me the Husband whom i have love so much and promise me that no woman will take him from me but all of a sudden things turned apart if not for my friend hear in USA that told me i needed a spell caster that can cast a spell to separate them maybe by now he must have went for a divorce which could have made me commit suicide because i loved him so much likewise like him also but how things turn around was a thing that surprised me.
    I vowed that any thing it could cost me i must separate him and my elder sister i then collected the contact of this spell caster from my friend Mary she told me his name is spiritual Priest Ajigar and his email is priestajigarspells@live.com i contacted him and narrated the whole story to him he consulted and found out that my sister visited a spell caster that casted a spell that made him love her i then ask him what to do he told me that this spell needed to be broken so that my husband can leave her alone and come back to me the spell was broken and within three days he began to hate her that he even beat her up before he said to her that it is over between him and her right now my husband is with me again and take good care of me like he have never done before i thank my friend Mary but i own all thanks to priest Ajigar for bringing back my husband and i therefore for advice that if you notice any strange behavior in your marriage or your boy friend or girlfriend is cheating you contact Priest Ajigar to know the root of it he will surely help you out and give an everlasting solution to it.

  • Deborah

    My name is Deborah Clinton. My life has been sour since i became a cripple at the age of 12 and this has really affected my living. I met Cyril during the Olympic when i was 26 years old and he was a very funny and caring guy who taught me how important i am to world. He made me understands been crippled is not the end of the world for me and i was very happy having him as my companion. Justin was a very hardworking guy and he promise to marry me before he left for business trip in China. Two months later he arrived from China and never visited me. I was told by my brother that Justin is now going out with my friend and this really broke me down cos he is the only one that truly loves me. No one wants to go out with me because i am a cripple. I and my brother traveled to South Africa to watch the world cup when i heard about Ancient Remedy Temple. I never believe in God because i am a cripple and i believe that no one can ever make me walk again but when i heard about his great power, i decided to go there. I begged my brother to take me Ancient Remedy Temple. I spent 7 days in his healing center and it surprises me that on the 7th day, i was able to stand and walk. The priest told me that Justin was under a spell and he prayed for me to destroy every obstacle in my life. I came back home and i was shocked to see Justin. He came and begged me for forgiveness, our relationship came back normal. I am very happy to inform the general public that i and Justin are happily married since October last year and i am pregnant. I know that people might be passing through any problem and i will advise you to contact Ancient Remedy Temple because his miracle is free. His email address is ancientremedy1@gmail.com

  • Scott Bela

    My name is mata scott from united states this is my testimony my lover broke up with me on the 14th of Feb 2013 on Val day i was heart broken until i saw Dr ehoho a great spell caster who cast a love binding spell to bring back my lover and my lover came back 2days after he cast the spell, all my thanks goes to Dr ehoho a wonderful man indeed he is an honest person, you are also indeed a father and a friend any one in need of any kind of spell should contact Dr ehoho on his email address: drehohospiritualtemple@gmail.com

  • Manimal

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Benny.

  • aparente001

    To make your vowels clearer and purer, choose some practice sentences and SING them. Slowly.

  • Mike Olivia

    This is my testimony about the good work of a man who helped me..My name is Olivia mike, and I base in London.My life
    is back!!! After 8 years of marriage, my husband left me and left me with our three kids. I felt like my life was about to
    end, and was falling apart. Thanks to a spell caster called papa Justus who i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I was searching for a good spell caster that can solve my problems. I came across series of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. There was one particular testimony I saw, it was about a woman called grace,she testified about how papa Justus brought back her Ex lover in less than 72 hours and at the end of her testimony she drop papa Justus e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give papa a try. I
    contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 3 days, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues,
    and we are even happier than before. papa Justus is really a talented and gifted man and i will not to stop publishing him
    because he is a wonderful man…If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve that
    problem for you. Try the great papa Justus today, he might be the answer to your problem. Here’s his contact:
    drabeljustus@gmail.com Thank you great Justus. Contact him for the following:

    (1)If you want your ex back.
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    (12)Miracle Spells
    (13)Beauty Spells
    (14)PROPHECY CHARM
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  • sie asunder

    I am British but have been learning Spanish (trying) for the past 5 years. I have actually a Spanish girlfriend but pure laziness, she speaking English well and my fear have prevented me from speaking Spanish well yet! Finding Benny’s method has inspired me to give it a more pro-active go.

    I don’t really have a problem with rolled R, I can just seem to do it naturally (it is similar to a Scottish accent – though I am English not Scottish). My Mum however cannot roll Rs at all.

    I agree about the consonant-vowel relationship and us Anglophones must always be aware of it because I can easily slip into lazy vowel sounding too.

    I find another ‘give-away’ of English natives, particularly in Spanish, is the plosive D and T sounds. It is very subtle in Spanish especially between vowels, for example, in cuidado. I have had to work a lot on reducing the ‘D’ sound in my Spanish speech and still find it difficult when it follows another consonant, such as in, verde, tardar, tarde – I always have difficulty with these words!

    Another big give-away is ‘o’. We English speakers give it a big round open sound, particularly where I am from, northern England! Rather than the single short pure sound in Spanish (like o in poem). I can always spot an English speaker speaking Spanish when they use this big round ‘o’ sound: cuidado sounding like CuiDaDOhh!

    excellent blog Benny. Cheers!

  • Milly

    Helpful information about the “r”, but are there any tips on how to get the English “r” right as a German native speaker?
    I have also often noticed that native speakers of English tend not to be that understanding about my wanting to get rid of my foreign accent in English – they just tell me my English was excellent already and that they don’t see why I’d need to improve my accent any further! Any tips?