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Accent Reduction > Can you irradicate an accent?
Can you irradicate an accent?

This is a highly debated area & many people agree that it is difficult to completely eradicate your accent.

Charlotte Sullivan
Charlotte Sullivan

However i am currently working with Charlotte Sullivan, an actress born & raised in Spain who moved to the UK a few years ago. To talk to her, you would have no idea that she was born in a foreign country & attended foreign schools. Her English accent is impeccable!

This got me thinking about what separates Charlotte from other foreign people who move here & learn English. Why are their accents so apparent & Charlotte's not?

The key is when you first learn a foreign language. In school we are taught writing, listening & speaking in a foreign language but very little emphasis is placed on accent.

You learn your accent from your parents, you imitate the shapes of the sounds that they make, this helps you to form the accent in the correct place. Charlotte grew up speaking English with her parents & is the defining characteristic that differentiates her from those who learn a language academically or in later life.

Does this mean that you cannot completely eradicate an accent? No, I believe it is possible to achieve this but you need incredible determination & commitment.

My brother-in-law (who had to learn to speak Russian for his job) has been told by several Russians that he sounds just like a native! He is however married to a Russian woman - has this had a major effect?

Perhaps the key is being constantly surrounded by people who are native in the language or accent in which you are learning speak? or is it just an affinity to imitate your surroundings?

© Gemma Boaden, TemperVox. 23.03.2011

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