You Can’t Lose your Accent if you are an Adult. Is this True?
Can you lose your accent if you are an adult is a question that comes up often.
When we are children and learning our native language, the neurological centres that are our language listening centres, are very plastic and wide open. It makes sense that this is the case. This is the developmental stage in which we acquire our language and the accent for our native language.
As we get older, developmentally, we have acquired our early language and pronunciation and so our language listening centre isn’t as open as when we are younger. Our brains are focused on putting down new pathways for other skills we are learning.
Studies have shown that when we are young and we learn more than one language at once, the neurology for all the languages is formed in the one area in an interconnected way. The same studies show that when we learn another language when we are older, the new neurological pathways for the new language are formed in an adjacent area to our native language.
Therefore, it isn’t as easy as when we are younger to acquire a new language and accent. Don’t forget also, we have been learning our native language and accent by listening and repeating etc for about 5 years by the time we are fluent with correct grammar and with clear pronunciation. By the time we are 5 or 6 years old, we have acquired most of the foundation of the language and pronunciation skills we need for adulthood. We just add more vocabulary and build a bit on our language complexity.
Having said all of that, there are people who are naturally good at mimicking accents or learning new languages more quickly. It has been proposed that these people’s language listening area, and so their ‘ear’ is still more open than with other people.
So can you lose your accent if you are an adult?
Yes You can!
Your brain is plastic and can form new neurological pathways.
Just as it took a few years to learn your original language and accent, it takes time to change or lose your accent. When you were a child you listened to those around you, and repeated and mimicked what they said over and over and over and over ! And just like that you can also lose your accent or acquire a new accent in English. You have to want to do this, and you need to work on it.
You don’t need 5 years though to notice that you are losing your accent! Even after just a few weeks of daily practise you will begin to notice a difference in your pronunciation.
Because you are attuning your ear to the new accent, and putting down new neurological pathways, you can lose your accent more quickly if you listen to a native speaker through headphones. This vibrates the auditory nerve from your ear to the brain more directly making the signal more effective.
You can lose your accent entirely. You can neutralise your accent. Or you can keep some of your accent and just speak more clearly and be understood better when you speak English. All of this is possible with a bit of practise.
P.s. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Leave me a comment in the comments section below.
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