Where Do Accents Come From?
Where do accents really come from? Why do people even have an accent? Formal language classes focus on reading and writing from the first day of class. This causes us to input what we know about reading and writing on the new language before we even hear it. That means, if we see a G, we are going to pronounce it like the only G sound we’ve ever heard. How could we guess what it would be in the new language? We can’t.

So I believe that if we were to speak the new language for the first six months to a year, then we would not have as strong accents in our foreign languages.

Would we still have an accent? Yes. But would we retain so many bad pronunciation habits because we ‘thought’ we knew what the written word sounded like when pronounced out loud? I don’t think so.

Because if we heard the teacher say it out loud, then we would try to replicate that. But when we see it, we keep in our minds that it is spelled a certain way, and it’s hard to take that image away once we have it. Once we see that G, we think of the only G we’ve ever known. Even if the new language G doesn’t sound anything like that at all.

Learning Language by Speaking Makes the Difference in Accents

That’s why English speakers pronounce the H sound in Spanish, even though the H is silent. But English speakers do not pronounce the H sound in the greeting ‘Hola’ because they’ve heard it said so many times that they had no idea that there was an H at the beginning of the word.

So if we did that for the whole language over 6 months to a year when we first started teaching it, then students would not continue with these pronunciation mistakes. They would simply repeat the teacher.

What does this sound like to you?

It sounds like how we learned our first language, doesn’t it? We sound like our parents and the people around us as children. Why? Because that’s all we know.
It would be the same for adults learning a new language if we did not start with reading and writing. –

I am always surprised when I hear a REALLY good accent in a foreign language. Yes, it’s obvious they are not born and raised as a native speaker, but still, their accent is really exceptional and they don’t make the typical mistakes for someone from that country.

I always ask them, “Did you learn by just speaking, and not in a formal classroom?
And every time, they say, “How did you know I never took a class?
And I say, “Because you speak very well.

Accents Come from SPEAKING

Now I’m not saying, “DONT TAKE A LANGUAGE CLASS.” But rather, I am saying, take a language class with a teacher that focuses on speaking, a teacher that uses pictures to generate discussion.

Then you’ll end up speaking more naturally than if you started with reading and writing. This is where accents come from; they’re developed by speaking like the people around you and imitating the way they pronounce words and sounds. 

If you need more tips or further consultation on how to improve your accent, feel free to contact us at [email protected] or (800) 401-3159.