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The Single Biggest Reason Why Foreigners Find it Hard to Master Accents

I’ve heard my fellow English speakers make the same pronunciation mistakes over and over again while it’s OBVIOUS that they’re aware of the fact that they’re making them.

For example, the typical English ‘th’ sound isn’t that hard to master, yet a lot of foreigners will say – “Nope, not a chance in the word I’ll be able to pronounce it properly!”

Another sound that many foreigners refuse to learn is the ‘r’ sound. Many nationalities like Spaniards, Italians and East-Europeans will pronounce that sound very hard like in their own language while mastering the proper ‘r’ sound is actually quite easy.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a perfectionist, and my own English is far from being perfect and native-like. I do, however, pay attention to how I pronounce words in English, and with a little bit of effort nearly every English sound can be mastered to quite a decent level.

In this video I’m addressing this particular issue, so please watch it if you’re among those foreign English speakers always having considered themselves bad at learning proper English pronunciation and accents.

And of course, post your comments below!

Robby 😉

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  • Sergei

    It took me nearly two years until I realized the fact that I had been pronouncing “TH” the way we I would say it in Russian “V”. My Lithuanian work colleague still makes this sort of mistake and sometimes she is not understood because of that . Take, for instance, words wine and vine. It takes some effort to master particular sounds but after a while it becomes a second nature.

    • accentrobby

      Most surprisingly, the effort required to master certain sounds isn’t as big as people normally believe! I’m not saying it’s super-easy, but I believe that for the most part it’s some sort of a mental barrier rather than physiological inability to twist one’s mouth and lips certain way.

      Let’s take the ‘r’ sound, for example. While it’s not hard to produce (all that’s required is lifting the tongue upwards), almost all Latvians I know roll their ‘r’s simply because 1) they’re shy to even try to pronounce the ‘r’ sound the way natives do 2) they would dismiss any attempt by someone else to explain to them how it’s pronounced properly (the attitude would be – “You think you’re smart, ah? Leave me alone, I can speak how I want!”).

      If pronunciation is a real impediment in terms of communication (like in your example with your Lithuanian work colleague), such and similar pronunciation mistakes should be corrected… But then again – you can’t just be upfront with people and tell them what you think. Most folks will take an offence – unless they’re your close friends, so I believe it’s best to leave it to those individuals themselves.

      Thanks for the comment!



      • http://javiervallestero.blogspot.com.es Francisco Javier

        Yes, Robby, when I’m teaching English I tell my students not to roll their r’s.

        I always tell them it is a “soft” sound. It just requires some practice, that’s all.

        PS: When I start posting videos you’ll see I don’t roll my r’s!