How can I learn about pronunciation?

Imitators! - About speaking foreign languages ​​afterwards


by Christine Tettenhammer

Haven't you ever really had to laugh when you heard a German politician speak English with a terrible accent?

Aren't some announcements in public transport incredibly funny when they are made in a German reinterpretation of the English language and then echo loudly through the compartment?
But ... - Don't you also know someone who speaks perfect English - even though they are not a native speaker?
How is it that some people can repeat and pronounce foreign languages ​​better or more easily than others?

Learning to pronounce a foreign language - talent or a matter of practice?

If you now start to learn a foreign language:
What influences whether you learn pronunciation quickly - is personal talent the decisive factor or is it just a matter of practice?
As is so often the case, the answer to this question is: Learning to pronounce a foreign language depends on two factors - talent and practice.

Learning to pronounce a foreign language - only for the “talented”?

Of course, the thing with the "talent" has already been investigated in various scientific studies in linguistic experiments. The results of this research are as follows:
  • People whose personal disposition is very open to new things and who are open to change will find it easier to learn the pronunciation of a foreign language.
    As a rule, such people try out everything that promises to be different or new. This openness is often accompanied by a high level of motivation in people with such systems.
    And a high level of motivation makes it easier to learn pronunciation.
  • The “talent” of a pronunciation artist can also be seen in his mother tongue.
    Anyone who can recognize and imitate dialects in German as a native speaker will also have fewer problems with the pronunciation of a foreign language.
  • Another hallmark of a person's language skills is:
    Anyone who is able to assess the emotional state of a speaker in a foreign language (without seeing him) has a good "ear" for pronunciation in general and the pitch in particular.
    So if you're already on “Hello. Good morning. ”If your American colleague can tell on the phone whether she's having a good day or not, then the probability is high that you won't hear a German accent or just a weak German accent in your English.
In addition to these personality factors, which you can control or influence less strongly, there are of course clearly factors whose effects you are in control of yourself.

How can I have a positive influence on the pronunciation of a new language?

When you are in the process of learning a new language and still struggling with pronunciation
... maybe these clues will help you further:
  • High motivation = faster learning of pronunciation!
    A learner's motivation has a really big influence on his or her learning success. Those who have fun and enjoyment and are highly motivated to learn pronunciation will be more successful than someone who has to force themselves to deal with the foreign language anew every day.
  • The more you practice, the faster you will learn pronunciation!
    This rule of thumb also makes sense to everyone immediately: Those who practice the pronunciation of a foreign language every day learn it faster than someone who only deals with it once a week.
  • It's easier to learn in a (foreign) country!
    Again, this is not a new finding: you will learn the pronunciation of a new language much faster when you are in the country. Simply because you always have the opportunity to test your pronunciation on a native speaker and see whether the person you are talking to understands what you mean.
    If you only attend a Spanish course once a week and have three opportunities to read a Spanish sentence during the lesson, it will simply take longer to become proficient in pronunciation.
    If you do not have the opportunity to travel to the country whose language you are currently learning, then try to get the language “in your ear” as often as possible at home in Germany. Listen to web radio and podcasts, watch the news on the Internet, buy music CDs, and sing along loudly in the foreign language!
    It is also very effective if you form a so-called language tandem with a native speaker of the foreign language, in which you support each other in learning the foreign language.
  • Stay curious!
    At the beginning of this article you learned that people who are open to new ideas can learn to pronounce a foreign language particularly quickly. So try to maintain a certain childish curiosity.
I wish you lots of fun and success while learning pronunciation
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