Pick up adult accents

Speak like a native speaker - is that also possible for adults?

Everyone who learns a language not only wants to speak fluently, but if possible also “speak like a native speaker”. So he wants to adopt the accent, intonation and perfect pronunciation of the words, not just learn vocabulary and grammar.

Speak like a native speaker - is it possible?

The question now is: is that even possible? As an adult, can you speak like a native speaker?

We think so! However, it does mean that you have to pay attention to certain things as you study and that you have to start learning the "native speaker accent" very early on. How it works? We'll show you today.

You will find that acquiring the accent from a native speaker works relatively smoothly for some people and does not take much time, but other people take longer to do it and have to work harder to do it. But it's worth it, and with the right strategies, it's not that difficult.

Why is it worth speaking without an accent and like a native speaker?

On the one hand, you will find people very easily in the country if you can speak the language. It will be all the easier for you if the people there can understand you without any problems. Have you ever listened to Indian or Chinese people speaking English? Their own sentence melody makes it very difficult to understand them, even if they otherwise speak perfectly and use the correct grammar structures and vocabulary. But if the intonation and pronunciation are too far removed from the language spoken by native speakers, then you may no longer understand a word.

Of course, another advantage is that you are on safe ground if you are sure of your correct pronunciation and intonation. If you know that you can pronounce the language in a way that is understandable for native speakers, you will feel well armed and more confident to speak. Then there is no problem with communication, even if you are missing vocabulary from time to time or you make a mistake in the grammar structure. You don't feel so “strange” to yourself.

So how do you manage to speak like a native speaker?

Our tips for this

1) Decide on a type of accent

Let's take the English language as an example. If you have a lot of contact with the United States, use this accent as a reference. But if you are more concerned with Great Britain, then it is only logical to also study the pronunciation and intonation - and last but not least, the vocabulary! - to appropriate this land. This is not only the case in English, but also in other languages. Spanish differs considerably between Spain and South and Central America, as does French from France and the overseas departments.

2) Learn the correct intonation

Make sure you pronounce words correctly right from the start. But that alone does not make the correct intonation. So also make sure to use the correct sentence melody. This means that you should listen to a native speaker and then imitate what he said. Techniques such as “shadowing” or reading aloud are very suitable for this. Speech pauses must also be placed in the right places in the sentence. There are languages ​​that are a bit stingy with commas. If you don't want to collapse, you need to plan carefully where to take your speaking breaks. You don't think that's important? Then do the following experiment: Read a newspaper article to your partner in your native language, but with pauses in the wrong places. You will notice that your partner will find it difficult or possibly not at all to understand the text. And we're talking about the mother tongue here. Then it is only logical that it is much worse in a foreign language!

3) Speak relatively slowly at the beginning

Why should you speak slowly at the beginning? The mouth is a muscle and has to get used to the new sounds. It is better to speak slowly and clearly (and correctly!) Than quickly and indistinctly (and not correctly). So your mouth muscles can adjust to the new language. You will find that after a short time you will find the pronunciation relatively easy. Then you can start working on the accent. It is easy to find native speakers on the Internet to help you with this.

4) Practice your listening skills

Hear as much as possible in your target language, preferably in your preferred accent, of course. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts on the internet posted by native speakers. If you look at where these people come from, you can decide exactly whether you would rather learn Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese, Australian or British English, Argentine or Venezuelan Spanish or French or Malagasy French. When you've made up your mind, listen, listen, listen, listen, listen - as much as you can.

5) Find native speakers to speak with

You probably want to actively practice the language too. So the best thing to do is to look for native speakers. It's very easy nowadays on the Internet, there are several tandem sites such as Italki or languageexchange.com. Once you've found one or more tandem partners, make sure you talk to them at least once a week, but preferably more often. We recommend several partners, because this way you always have someone as a reserve if one partner does not have time for you. Here it is particularly important to adhere to the regularity. And once you've made friends in Barcelona, ​​New York, London or Paris, you'll want to talk to them all the time anyway!

6) Find prominent role models

Why not speak like George Clooney or like Penélope Cruz? Find prominent role models and imitate them. You can download and watch movies and TV shows on the Internet, keep pausing and repeat the sentences. This will improve your pronunciation step by step - and it's fun too.

7) Practice the sounds one by one

You may not want to do these exercises when all family members are at home with you. But if you have problems with certain sounds, for example with the Italian "gl", then do not practice all the words, just that particular sound. You will see that after a certain time it will be much easier for you.

8) Have a native speaker speak to you - right and wrong

This is the absolute acid test of your self-confidence - but extremely useful. Ask a native speaker to pronounce a word the way it sounds to you and then say it again the way it should sound. You'll hear the difference right away and start practicing with this native speaker right away. This way you will quickly make progress in Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

9) Record yourself when you speak

This is also an acid test for your self-confidence. Record yourself when you speak your language of study. And - worse - listen to it afterwards. Then you will also hear what you sound like yourself. This way you can eliminate some mistakes even without a native speaker. And if you send the audios to a French, American or Italian friend, they'll be happy about it and will answer you too. Then you have a little something to listen to again. That also trains your pronunciation.

10) Take a language course

Languages ​​mean communication. So take a language course, whether in your hometown or abroad. How about an English course in London, a French course in Bordeaux, an Italian course in Rome or a Spanish course in Valencia?


Are you interested in a language course? You can find the relevant information on our website. We hope you enjoy browsing, traveling and of course reading.

In order not to miss an article, please feel free to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We look forward to you!

Find your perfect language schoolSearch Course Finders to find the course for you