Our world is so diverse and colourful! Accents are a representation of who we are and where we come from. So if accents are so common, why are there so many misconceptions about them? Many people have a preconceived notion of native accents and foreign accents, which causes them to believe in stereotypes and false information.
Adults cannot change their accents.
The answer is -- FALSE.
The adult brain is more flexible and open to learning than most people think it is. Speech therapy offers services like accent modification to help you build your speaking skills. It should be noted that this service does not strip your accent away but allows you to learn new sounds that don't exist in your native language. Accent modification teaches you to focus on speech sound, resonance and intonation to achieve language fluency.
You most definitely can change your accent over your entire lifetime, even if you are an adult. You can compare speeches from the Queen from early in her life to now and look at how actors can learn different accents for a role. Although learning the sounds of a language is indeed easier when you're young, it's not impossible as an adult. This is why accent modification services exist.
I don't speak with an accent; I speak normally.
The answer is -- FALSE.
There is not one perfect accent. Everyone is born with an accent, and everyone speaks with an accent, whether it is a native one or a foreign one. Native accents are what you have when you’re a native speaker of a language. Whereas a foreign accent is an accent you have when that language is not your native language.
Foreign accents are what we typically think of when we think of accents. This is because a native accent is what you are accustomed to since birth. And those who surround you (family, friends, neighbours) tend to have the same accent as you do.
Accents have nothing to do with grammar.
The answer is -- False.
Although many factors contribute to an accent, accents are largely affected by how a person pronounces their words. This myth is greatly believed because most people don’t recognize the sounds that differ in each accent. Instead, they hear the overall conversation rather than the individual sounds.
In addition to grammar, tongue and mouth placement largely affects your accent as well. Essentially, what causes an accent is your spoken English being filtered through the sound system of your first language because your mouth is comfortable with certain placements and movements. When you speak another language, you resort back to those placements, even if it is wrong.
Accents surround us in our everyday lives, and there is so much to learn about them. Book a free consultation with our speech-language pathologist to learn about the services we provide!