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Accent formation video lecture

  Tags: Video | Accent
 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
34 messages over 5 pages: 1 24 5  Next >>
United States
Joined 5664 days ago

55 posts - 63 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Mandarin, German, Italian, Portuguese

 Message 17 of 34
08 March 2009 at 2:07am | IP Logged 
JonB wrote:
Okay, there may be some people who have a special talent for this. If you're one of these lucky people, then hey-ho, so much the better! But most adult learners are not, in fact, able to reach a level where their accents would be so completely authentic as to fool a native speaker.

I have another (unscientific) explanation on this...are you not surprised? Educational theory has pretty well established that individuals favor differing learning modalities. That is an inelegant way of saying different people favor differ senses in learning. The principal ones I know of are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. I believe the people who retain the ability to achieve good accents throughout much of their lives are primarily auditory learners. I definitely am. Even in English, when I listen to a lecture I might write down a key word or pharse, but I prefer just to listen. In that same situation I see many people scribbling down every word as if it were Holy Writ. I presume these are visual learners who prefer to see and read information to take it in. Kinesthetic learners require movement or some bodily expression to be comfortable.

I also agree with the comment Fasulye made. Just because I can achieve a very good accent does not mean it is effortless. I too spend much time with tapes, DVDs, watching movies to hear the natural rhythms of a language. I find that even in languages I don't know like Korean, I can hear individual words and phrases in a relatively short period of time even if I don't know what they mean. It is not just a stream of undifferentiated sound.

Edited by Jeito on 08 March 2009 at 2:11am

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United States
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 Message 18 of 34
11 March 2009 at 3:06am | IP Logged 
I have completed this lecture with Part 4: Perspective.

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Senior Member
dgryski.blogspot.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6858 days ago

555 posts - 605 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Dutch, Esperanto

 Message 19 of 34
11 March 2009 at 5:36am | IP Logged 
I really saw myself in your second lecture when you were describing some of the different personality types of language learners. It really made me sit up and reflect on how I'm viewing my progress and where I want to be.

Similarly, your fourth lecture made me think about my own situation here in Montreal, specifically with regards to being "mistaken for a native." The special case of a bilingual city like Montreal means that people are _more_ used to accents from "the other side", and so more readily accept my non-native French as "ok". I'm not "Foreign", I'm just anglo. While there are certainly are a number of my friends who have no accent in either English or French, thinking about everybody here and the accents that I hear makes me happier with my own level I've managed to achieve.

Thanks for your very interesting lecture series, and I look forward to the next set.

Damian Gryski

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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 6112 days ago

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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian, Dutch, Greek

 Message 20 of 34
11 March 2009 at 11:07am | IP Logged 
Dear Professor,

May I say that this last part of your lecture was the most interesting of all for me. In the last 20 minutes or so, you very powerfully covered all of the points that I myself have so clumsily attempted to articulate in my earlier comments on this thread.

I was struck by your observation that having a native (or near-native) pronunciation can actually have certain dangers. This reminded me of a fellow student whom I knew while I was studying in Germany: He was English, but had spent some childhood time in Germany - thereby acquiring a very authentic sounding German accent. Unlike we 'normal' English students in Germany, he had a really hard time of it! Exactly in the way you mention regarding your students in South Korea, so much more was expected of him in the written and oral assessments! And away from the university too, I understand that people often reacted quite badly to his combination of excellent accent with grammatical slips and gaps in vocabulary. (His own complaint was that local people frequently seemed to take him for some kind of mild retard!)

Anyway, thanks once again for this lecture. I feel that I can hardly be alone in regarding your Youtube channel as a true goldmine of information and inspiration to all language learners. :-)

--Jon Burgess

Edited by JonB on 11 March 2009 at 11:18am

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Joined 6194 days ago

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Studies: Japanese

 Message 21 of 34
11 March 2009 at 11:55am | IP Logged 

in your lecture you were speaking of natural ability/limitation when it comes to a attaining a certain quality of accent. Do you think there is also a natural ability/limitation for perceiving the sounds of a foreign language? I have been living for five years now in a foreign country where I am interacting all day long with native speakers but in some situations (conversations in a low voice, rapid speech, very casual speech, i. e. you hardly see the lips moving), I become very desperate because I hardly get the gist of it. I had already my ears examined by a doctor and he said they were alright. In my native language I never have such auditive issues. So while you say that it is rather unlikely to sound like a native speaker, would you say in the same way that is also rather unlikely to perceive speech like a native speaker, I mean e.g. to perceive English speech like an American would?

Thanks again for your sharing your knowledge with us all.
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Joined 5626 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Greek, Italian

 Message 22 of 34
11 March 2009 at 2:17pm | IP Logged 
Just finished watching part IV. Bravo!

There is so much importance placed on accent. If language learners want to fit into a particular culture why isn't there more emphasis placed on pragmatics and discourse style. I find it far more disturbing when non-native speakers of English use overly direct language than if someone uses situationally appropriate language with an accent. Top Chef fans, look at the difference between Stephan and Fabio.

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Joined 5662 days ago

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Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 Message 23 of 34
18 March 2009 at 10:24pm | IP Logged 
Interesting videos, thanks for the insights.

I think we tend to see "sounding like a native" too much as a one sided process. I think whether a non native accent is detected depends to a large extent on the native speaker themselves, their linguistic sensitivity, their culture, background etc. For example, I have French friends who tell me I only have to open my mouth and they can tell I'm English. Others say I'm anglophone. Others say I'm "not French". Still others take me for a French person, or they're surprised when I tell them I'm not. Yesterday I was at a book fair in Paris and I came across a stall of an association for the promotion of French against the evil invasion of English. I ended up having quite an interesting discussion with one of their members about how shocking it was that people were forced to speak English at work until I revealed that I was in fact an English teacher... just goes to show that how good your accent is depends just as much on your interlocutor as on your pronunciation.

Dan Ashley
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United States
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 Message 24 of 34
23 March 2009 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
In answer to "Inno's" question about limitations on perception - I tried to address this very issue in the first video on this series about phonetics. Difficulties in imitating foreign accents are not only directly linked to, but might even be better described as being precisely due to, an inability to perceive foreign sounds. You are not literally deaf at all, as the hearing test your doctor performed confirms, but the analogy of deafness to certain sounds outside the patterns with which we grow up still holds. I do not know why some people are more affected by this than others, but I also do not know why some people are myopic or astigmatic; likewise, I do not know why some people can overcome this while others cannot, nor do I understand why some people can wear corrective lens while others cannot.

Well, although I have finished this series, I have made and posted another video, whose link I will provide here as it is an isolated feature on the subject of awareness of alternative study habits by means of analogy from another walk of life. I call it: the Parable of the Razor.

Thank you all for the kind comments about my YouTube Channel being a mine of information. I never intended to become a "filmmaker"; it has just sort of happened to me as I realized that this really is a most effective way of sharing information. Unfortunately, however, I am growing frustrated with YouTube as a venue. There are chronic problems such as frozen view counts and videos being falsely labeled as "unavailable" to which the system is either indifferent or that it is unwilling or unable to fix. I have a fair number of ideas for future videos forming in my brain, but these problems are disincentives to actualization.

Alexander Arguelles

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