Pronunciation problem....

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by shaloo, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. shaloo

    shaloo Senior Member

    Hi all!

    I always feel that a language should be spoken in its own form and fashion to retain its charm and beauty. I understand that foreigners cannot speak like natives when they learn a language in their home country, but isn't there a way to come atleast somewhere near perfection?

    The thing here is that if we learn a foreign language from a non-native instructor, its not always the right kind of pronunciation we learn. I know it because I've clearly observed the diference between a native and a non-native french speaker. And I thank god that I started off french from a native teacher.

    But what if we have no option like that?
    Its like you are taught to pronounce things in a particular way and when real life situations arise, u feel like dumped. And after learning everything, its hard to change your pronunciation and accent. starting from scratch.
    Would'nt it be tough then?

    I donno if I explained myself clearly, but this is what I want to know.

    How to get the correct pronunciation and accent + how to retain them even if your tutor is a non-native and you don't have any other way to communicate in that language?

    I've just started learning spanish and a find myself in a difficult situation as I was used to being trained under a native french tutor.

  2. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Hello shaloo
    I am of the opinion that what you seek is close to impossible.

    I believe that I am able to detect the accent of the person who taught English as an additional language to the person I am listening to.

    There is no other way to learn language than by repetition so you will most definitely be heavily influenced by the accent of you instructor but this is not a problem and I doubt if anybody will care.

    If your pronunciation is so horrible it will be quickly polished when you start talking with the natives.

  3. Gato_Gordo

    Gato_Gordo Senior Member

    The Western Pearl
    Spanish - México
    For my own experience, I believe that accent related problems pale in comparison with cultural clashes big time!

    The main advantage in learning from a native, I think, is the cultural overcoat you get just by linteracting with them ( ´ー`)―♪
  4. shaloo

    shaloo Senior Member

    Exactly true.
    When I put myself in comparision with other classmates of mine who learnt french from non-native speakers, I could observe this.

    As everyone knows, India is a highly traditional country and the concept of boyfriends etc... is always looked down at(even in cities, except the very hihgly elite groups).But i knew that all that was too common (and even more than that;) ) in France, thanks to my tutor, who gave his best in order to make us understand the cultural differences.
    I used to feel embarassed in the beginning even to utter a few words, but im now fine hearing them and continuing discussions on such topics whereas my friends are the hell could you discuss such things with a 'teacher', who is to be revered ? ......r u going out of track.......? you forget that you are an indian if you speak french?...what will your parents think about you ..........and oh..god! People misunderstand very easily.
    Its like as if i've comitted a grave mistake thats really unpardonnable.

    But for me, Im happy that I can very well understand the cultural differences and can beautifully handle discussions with natives without any sort of embarassment.
    I wish I could do the same with spanish too. But then, I feel I've learnt and I'm learning so much by participating in these forums of WR. They benefit me a lot.

    By the way, are there any websites which make us repeat alphabets, words and their pronunciations in spanish? Atleast, I could try that(I dont think i've any other option left:( ).
  5. Gato_Gordo

    Gato_Gordo Senior Member

    The Western Pearl
    Spanish - México
    To me, the whole point of leaning another language is to broaden the perception of my own world, what's the point in learning that inu means dog in japanese if the only dog you are going to pet is your own?

    You need to get to know japanese people to also learn that dogs in japan bark in japanese (wan, wan, wan)

    Once you understand why the same word have different connotations in different languages, you tap into the life experiences of millions of souls that have lived in this old world, each one adding to the richness of the stoy of each word.

    man did I get excited! ( ´ー`)―♪
  6. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    I don't think that if you're taught how to pronounce something incorrectly, your pronunciation is irreparable. It's almost undoubtedly much more difficult to repair your pronunciation than it is to get it right from the beginning.

    Also, perhaps some words of encouragement for shaking off any accent you may have, my Italian teacher was born in Italy and came to America at the age of 13. He's about 40 now and has absolutely no accent whatsoever. When I first met him, I actually thought he was born in America and learned Italian in America. When he said he was born in Italy, I didn't believe him at first! But he was! Surely, it must've taken him many years to get rid of the accent, and I don't know how many it did, but he got rid of it!

    The best I can recommend is see if there's anyone on the forum that speaks the language you're trying to learn and see if you can get in voice contact with him or her. Phone would probably be asking too much, in my opinion, at least if for no other reason the long distance rates, but perhaps by using computer microphones and a medium such as MSN or AIM to initiate the voice conversations?

    Best of luck!

  7. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    I'm very pessimistic about getting a perfect pronunciation, mostly from my own experiences. I should have been in a great position to learn how to speak Greek with a correct accent since I grew up in a Greek-speaking home among people born and raised in Greece, but still my English just overpowered my Greek and I can't speak 20 words without it being obvious I wasn't born in Greece. It's not major but it is noticeable. Other people I know in similar situations also say that their accent is off somehow. I do know some people like Moogey's teacher where it's very hard, if not impossible, to tell they were born elsewhere but all of them moved to Canada when they were pretty young, no older than 14 or 15, and everyone says that age is a huge factor here.

    But even if you can't get a perfect accent, you can always get closer and closer, and I agree that the best way to do this is complete immersion in the language you're learning, and I'd also add that it's good to limit your exposure to your mother language, since you're basically trying to break the patterns that you've developed. This, though, wasn't possible for me but I have noticed improvements simply by increasing my exposure to a language by watching movies and tv, listening to music, and so on. Voice conversations would probably be even better since it'll force you to develop active knowledge instead of it just being passive.

  8. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Hi Shaloo,
    While I agree with those who say it is difficult I do not believe that it is impossible to acquire a good “almost” native accent and speech pattern. So do not give up hope.
    Your profile shows that you know several languages. That is a good start. I think it is easier if you know several languages. Total immersion with not one but many natives you already know is best. Here we are talking about alternatives, since not everyone can jump on an aeroplane and fly to the target country. If you investigate other threads, you will see that using audio cd for conversation or music with lyrics and DVDs with subtitles will imitate the optimum circumstances. You will have to work harder but you can do it.
    Listen and read together then separately try to mimic what you hear seek out people who can help you. Keep in mind it is more valuable to study 15 or 20 minutes a day rather than 1-2 once a week. If you only use school time to learn a language you will be no better than the millions of students who study a language and yet do not speak it.
    So keep your chin up and try to simulate the total emersion approach. This includes using pictures and speaking without translation into your native tongue. Buena suerte!
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I think my pronunciation of English is quite good, even though most of my teachers were not native speakers. I did, however:

    - have some teachers who spoke excellent English in the final years I studied the language, one of which was a native speaker;

    - have the opportunity to interact with native speakers early in my adolescence;

    - watch a lot of television in English, listen to a lot of music in English, read a lot in English.

    Make of that what you will.

    In my opinion, getting a good accent in a foreign language is not as difficult as most posters in this thread seem to think. I mean, I know people who moved from one region of my country to another, and after a number of years they had lost their original accent completely, and acquired the one of the new region. If we can lose accents in our own language, surely gaining a foreign accent can't be all that different from that...
  10. Sallyb36

    Sallyb36 Senior Member

    Liverpool UK
    British UK
    listen to native readio, watch TV listen to as many natives as possible. Live in the country if possible.
  11. sjofre

    sjofre Senior Member

    Portuguese, Portugal
    I think that in Portugal most people have a good accent of english (specially) because in our country television is subtitled instead of having a portuguese voice over, so we listen to the original languages of the films and tv shows, what is very good and gives us a good knowledge of several languages and even of their diferent accents.
  12. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Hmm, Sjofre, I wouldn't say that. Perhaps our accent is not as conspicuous as those of speakers of other languages, but most people do have one. I'm sure even I have a bit of accent.
  13. sjofre

    sjofre Senior Member

    Portuguese, Portugal
    I'm not saying we don't have any accent, just that it is good in comparison with other countries. Even in comparison with brazilians, who also speak portuguese, our english accent is better.
  14. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    The first thing to do is to find out how sounds are pronounced in the target language. For instance, most English people learning German know that they have to learn how to say the "ch" sound; far fewer are even aware that, say, "l" is pronounced differently (e.g. german "hell" v. English "Hell"), and consequently have no chance of getting the accent right.

    Secondly, you need to learn where the target language places emphasis within a sentence; this differs between, say, English and French, and is something that many Indians never get right, even when the rest of their accent is good.

    To learn these is a combination of picking up some theoretical knowledge and lots of listening and practice.
  15. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    I think one of the best methods is to record your speech and pronunciation on the PC and listen to it and notice the errors, try to correct them and do this as long as you will find your pronunciation OK.
  16. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Not true. Just as well as you can learn one more, very similar language, you can correct your translation along the way. Or switch from AE to BE. Or swithch from the dialect where you grew up and the dialect in some other part of the country.


    Besides, I don't understand why it should be impossible to learn a close to correct pronounciation from a non-native teacher: Even if the teacher has a slight accent and the student is so incredibly talented that he can imitate that accent 101% - then he ought to be sufficiently talented to imitate the native speakers he hears in the media as well.

    I have not seen that student yet, maybe he is somewhere out there.

    Anyway, I don't think it is a good idea to entirely to depend on your teacher when you learn a language. Not even as an absolute beginner.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  17. purpleannex Senior Member

    North Essex/Suffolk border
    British English
    If you want to sound like a native you have pick a specific area and stick to it rigidly. In English, for example, Americans and British pronounce some words completely different (which at times can be quite frustrating and have you shouting at youtube, but that's another story! ;)) And, within England itself, many words are pronounced differently depending on whether you are from the north or south, all of this is ignoring accent, that's another layer entirely, the mispronunciation of one word (for the area you've chosen) will mark you as non native straight away.

    I've yet to meet (who professed an origin) one single non native "local" who didn't one or two blips in either their pronunciation, accent, grammar, syntax,cultural reference, whatever, that ,marked them as non local.

    It should also be noted that if you want to sound "local" then locals seldom speak in "correct" ways, sometimes a student can learn a language in too strict a format, formal English for example, and then have no comprehension when faced with the real language.
  18. ACQM

    ACQM Senior Member

    Manresa (Barcelona)
    Spain - Spanish
    I don't think traying to sound exactly as natives is the first goal when you start to learn a language. If you want to learn Spanish, your first goal should be being able to comunicate with Spaniards or other hispanian people. Try first to learn real conversation about common topics. Obviously you have to study many years to get to sound like natives, first try to understand us :p and get us to understand you.

    The second thing is that you don't need to depend only on your teacher, you have the internet (on Wordreference you can listen to the pronunciation of any word in the Peninsular Spanish dialect, you can find other webs that may help you as well), you can find movies (DVDs will allow you to watch a movie in Spanish with Spanish subtitle), you can find many songs in Spanish and their lyrics to compare the pronunciation,... Try not to depend only on you teachers, sometimes teachers are wrong, and sometimes non-natives that learned the language form another non-native have funny pronunciations, etc.
  19. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    I am sure I have written this before, but I'll repeat it anyway. In my experience the importance of native speakers as teachers is terribly overrated. Many of them tend to believe that when they repeat something often enough, you are supposed to recognize the pattern - while on the other hand they are often not able to answer the simplest questions regarding the grammar of their language. Some of them just teach their native language, but have no experience in learning a foreign language themselves.
    Why is it that so many people want to assume that a language student only picks up the pronounciation of his formal teacher and there are no sources whatsoever where he would hear what the language should sound like, if he does not live within the area where it is spoken by natives? Especially today, this assumption is absolute nonsense. I grew up in Denmark with BBC 2 blasting most of the day. While I learned French my radio was tuned in on France Inter most of the time and I had no problem finding people who mainly spoke French.
    Today it is even easier - the Internet is packed with audio sources in a load of different languages: Radio, TV, Youtube, podcasts, you name it.
  20. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Yes, I agree. These things may really be of the utmost importance when you live in a country where the language you are trying to learn is not spoken around. The teacher's accent does not even matter that much, if you listen a lot to other sources, and try not to imitate the teacher's pronunciation, but rather use your own instead. I learned almost perfect accent in Polish this way -- as a child listening to a radio station. Of course it is a much more pleasant experience if the teacher speaks with a nice accent.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
  21. jasio Senior Member

    Indeed, when I was learning English one of my teachers had so horrible pronunciation (for example, he pronounced voiced 'th' as 'dz', so his 'then' sounded like 'zen' in Japanese) that I suspected that my own accent was better than his at the time, although I was only a beginner. Fortunately, I listened to and used to sing quite a lot English songs (including the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel...). The latter I recommend.

    I wouldn't underestimate teacher's pronunciation though... one of my colleagues was somewhat crazy and sent his child to an English pre-school, mainly for foreigners. The kid got almost a native pronuciation (probably a kind of an American one; I've never heard him), but when he later joined the primary school, poor teacher's pronunciation made him very upset, and it was very hard for him to learn almost anything new.

    I'm impressed. I wish I heard you speak. ;)

    And tells interesting stories. ;)
    One of my teachers was an American of Yugoslavian descent. He kept telling us a lot of nice stories about various aspects of life in America, and one time he even recited a Hebrew poems (he visited and spent some time in Israel shortly before visiting Poland) to show that some languages are better in certain types of usage then the others. Really nice chap, and a good teacher.
  22. jasio Senior Member

    I would say that it very much depends on the students' level. Beginner needs one thing, intermediate - another, and advanced - yet another. At a beginner level, when you struggle with basic syntax, simple phrases, basic words, strange pronunciation, a native speaker won't help that much. However the further you go, the more important is a native way of expressing yourself and someone who can correct your more and more subtle mistakes. Otherwise you risk learning "Polish English" or "German Italian" rather than just English or Italian, don't you?

    Being a native speaker does not necessarily mean that you really understand grammar of your own language, does it? Unless you take grammar studies, of course.

    You also missed one thing, I believe.
    A native speaker never is "just a native speaker". He always comes from a certain society, city or region. So the challenge for him/her may be to teach "English" rather than "Manchester English" or "Idaho English". ;) It's, of course, possible, but often you have to take care of it.
  23. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    A native speaker surely will help with pronunciation, as long as you have an ear for it. A non-native speaer as a teacher may haave an accent. E. g. I had a university professor for Spanish literature who wasn't able to roll her erres, and some future teachers whose pronunciation sucked (as did their grammar)..
  24. caelum

    caelum Senior Member

    Northwestern Ontario
    Canadian English
    As Angelo di Fuoco mentioned, some people just don't have an ear for repetition. I'm lucky enough to have a fairly good ear for it, and I even tend to mimic people when they're talking to me in foreign languages (not obnoxiously, I hope); but that doesn't mean that I speak better than another Canadian speaking Spanish, for example, just because they don't have the ear for it and speak in a very Canadian accent (with all the grammar there.)

    The most important part is understanding what is said to you and making yourself understood. Everything else is superfluous. (All this said, If you want to sound like a native, go for it)
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
  25. Nino83 Senior Member

    It's the same in Italy.
    If one wants to understand spoken English he must have private lessons with a native speaker teacher.
    Who has an high-school graduation is not able to understand a situation comedy in English.
    I think that high-schools should change programs, teaching more about English language (grammar, pronunciation, speech understanding) and less English literature.
    It's not tolerable that an high-school graduated can easily read and understand written English while, at the same time, he can't understand a single spoken sentence (unless the speaker speaks slowly).
  26. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    In reality that IS true. But that is not the way it is advertised by the language schools. OK, it is getting more common that language schools also offer AE along with BE. But that is about it. They tell you they have only native speakers, mother tongue translators etc. and everybody is happy, it seems. I am definitely not happy with that. I have had excellent non-native teachers in English and other languages. And I have had some really bad ones. I have been going to classes with a native Spanish teacher - I put up with that for four weeks and continued studying on my own. She was not capable of answering the simplest questions, concerning her own language. Now fine, she may have a slightly better pronounciation than a non native expert level teacher. So what? I have a chance to listen to that for maybe 4 hours a week. At home I listen to Spanish radio or watch Spanish television for maybe a total of 4 hours a day. Maybe even while falling asleep. Which is going to influence me more?

    In previous posts teachers have been mentioned, who were so bad that they were not able to pronounce anything in a way that native would have a chance to understand them. Of course that is not OK. But is that what we are comparing here? Completely ignorant untalented non native speakers with competent native speakers? Or are we comparing native speakers who know their own language well with non native speakers who know their foreign language well? And are we comparing non native teachers, who have experience in learning a foreign language themselves, with native teachers who may have a university degree in their mother language, but do not speak any other language and thus have no way of understanding certain problems that their students may have? (I have such a teacher among my closer relatives.)
  27. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    At least, in Germany future teachers of foreign languages do have to study comparative linguistics a little bit and should know about typical errors of Germans when learning both grammar and pronunciation of the language they are going to teach. And there are some native speakers among them.

    Native speakers make native speaker mistakes, whereas non-native speakers make non-native speaker mistakes. I've had good and excellent native speakers as qualified teachers, but I have also had some teachers who were non-native speakers - some were excellent, some sucked.

    Your native Spanish teacher may be a competent teacher, but I think that if she studied in her native country, sbe studied things that are relevant for teaching Spanish to native speakers, not those that are necessary for teaching Spanish as a foreign language.
  28. ACQM

    ACQM Senior Member

    Manresa (Barcelona)
    Spain - Spanish
    I agree with Sepia and Angelo. Sometimes, most of all when a beginner, it is good to you to have a teacher that have struggled through the same problems you have in the moment. When I try to help people in the Sólo Español (Spanish Only) forum there are moments when I just can't explain why I speak Spanish as I do, while a non native forero can.

    Knowing how to speak a language doesn't mean knowing how to teach it.

    In some advance level it is nice to have a native teacher because you can listen to him or her, but as well because you can check your own speaking level.
  29. Nino83 Senior Member

    I think that it's not a problem of teachers but a matter of programs.
    For example, when one listens to Cameron vs. Milliband in the House of Commons, one can understand very well what is said (thanks to Received Pronunciation, legal vocabulary has a lot of Latin/Romance borrowings, political speech is, often, slower, and so on) but when you see a film the speech is faster, there are a lot of phrasal verbs, if the film is American there is intervocalic /t/ (pronounced as /r/), inaudible final stops (/p/, /t/, /k/), t-glottalization, unrounded [ɑ], unpronounced /h/, unstressed prepositions ([fəɹ] instead of [foɹ]) and many other tricky things that it's very difficult to understand if one haven't studied it.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
  30. caelum

    caelum Senior Member

    Northwestern Ontario
    Canadian English
    Could that not just be because that's what your used to? I kind of doubt that RP is universally seen as easier to understand for, say, people from Mexico or South America, since they'd be far more used to American English.
  31. Darth Nihilus

    Darth Nihilus Senior Member

    Santa Catarina
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Well, I'm from South America and I'm much more used to BE, for more or less the same reasons that Nino83 mentioned above :rolleyes:. But that doesn't mean you're mistaken; I'm sort of a misfit here. The vast majority of brazilians who can communicate in English are in fact more familiar with AE. Although most of them are able to detect a British accent (well, some of them; most brazilians wouldn't identify Scouse or Georgie as being English at all.), they do have a hard time trying to understand it.
  32. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish

    I absolutely aggree with you. I have said this before in other threads as well: I absolutely cannot understand why it is assumed that you only learn and are culturally influenced by your teacher.
    I would even go as far as to say, if you rely totally on your teacher(s) it is very unlikely that you will ever master the language you are studying.

    And about accents and dialects - they are patterns in your pronounciation that you can change and of which you can learn new ones your whole life long. There will still be a bit of previous ones underneath, but it really depends on what you put on top of it.
  33. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    I find this interesting. I'm currently in Spain, where I now live for half of each year, and am still trying to get to grips with the language. I'm told my pronunciation is quite good, and like to think that this is because I have a good 'ear' for sounds, but this facility varies enormously from person to person.

    One of the first things I learned was how the various vowel sounds in Spanish are pronounced, and of course this is much easier than in English because Spanish is so consistent. For example, 'i' is always pronounced 'ee'. But listening to other British ex-pats, I often hear the 'i' pronounced as in the English word 'bit', and similarly with the 'o' sound that we have in 'roses', which my Spanish teacher described as that awful 'er-oo' sound! It seems to me that, if you master the 'switch' from 'i' to 'ee' etc., then you are off to a good start, but so many of my friends seem to ignore this. It's as if they're saying, "well, that's the way I pronounce the letter 'i', because I'm not Spanish!" I have one friend who insists on making an 'ah-ee' sound in words that don't contain an 'a' (for example in 'seis'), although this sound is represented in Spanish only by 'ai' and 'ay'.

    Could it be that they think the spelling system is universal, and therefore that if they encounter the word 'playa', it must be pronounced as in the English 'play'? What you have to do is accept that there is a different palate of sounds, and a different way of using the letters of the alphabet to represent them. It's revealing when people encounter letters that don't exist in the English alphabet - like the 'o' in 'ol' in Norwegian (sorry I don't know how to represent it here - the 'o' with a slash through it), and not knowing any better, simply pronounce it as if it were a normal 'o'.

    I also think that there is a tendency to remember the spelling of words as they are written, rather than the sound of them as they are spoken. (I admit I suffer a bit from this, and sometimes fail to recognise a word that I hear, until I see it written down). But the problem is that, having correctly remembered, for example that 'diecisiete' is 'seventeen', you are then faced every time with the problem of trying to pronounce it!
  34. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    @Could it be that they think the spelling system is universal, and therefore that if they encounter the word 'playa', it must be pronounced as in the English 'play'?

    Yes, that is exactly what they think.

    Or rather: It seems awfully difficult for a lot of people to mentally switch from one system to the other. And I still have not found out why so many Germans have been taught that an English "a" is pronounced like the German "ä".

    I also think that there is a tendency to remember the spelling of words as they are written, rather than the sound of them as they are spoken

    I think so too. But OK, sometimes I also find it easier to grasp the correct pronounciation of an unfamiliar word when I can imagine how it is spelled. But of course the spelling/pronounciation system of the particular languags must be applied. Certainly it must. But isn't that the first thing one learns? At least it is the first thing I look into when I encounter a new language - not necessarily because I have the ambition to learn it, but also just to know the right pronounciation of geographical names.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  35. jasio Senior Member

    Indeed. In fact, I noticed that when I speak English it's somewhat easier for me to pronounce Polish names in an English manner rather than in their original form. As if switching from one fonemic set to another to say just one or two words, and then switch back, required an extra effort.

    Perhaps because it's a regular practice to explain pronunciation of foreign sounds using similar sounds of your native language.
    Apparently, German "ä" is the easiest way to explain the English "a" pronunciation, and once taught, only a few people want to really perfect it. Have you tried, btw, to get a grasp of Norwegian pronunciation? I have, and after half an hour my lips and tongue just burnt, so if I ever decide to learn the language, I will probably stay with Polish, English, or German way of pronunciation.

    Don't most people - at least most males - have better visual memory than aural memory?

    My language teachers have always put more attention to vocabulary and grammar rather than to pronunciation - at least as long as students got a grasp of it, of course. Perhaps this approach is more universal?

    Is Spanish "i" short, or long? Perhaps those expats just don't remember or even realize that English "i" in "bit" is not quite the same as a shortened vowel in "beat". In another forum there was a discussion about Bulgarians improperly pronouncing "l" sound in Western languages. This is because in Bulgarian it is pronounced in a different manner depending on the following vowel ('light', before 'e' and 'i', versus 'dark' before 'a', 'o' and 'u'). It's very consistent (100%, perhaps), never market in spelling, so they are simply unable to pronounce 'light l' before some vowels, and quite possible that they even don't notice the difference.

    Or switching to foreign phonotactics is too hard for them. To give you an example: in Polish there is a word "czwartek" (pronounced more or less as ch-vah-r-teh-k), meaning Thursday. In Slovak there is a similar word 'čtvrtok' (ch-t-v-r-toh-k), meaning the same. Both languages are very similar, so I got some grasp of Slovak during my several visits to the country. However their phonotactics allowing 'r' (and 'l') to take a vowel position was so distracting, that even after many exercises I wasn't able to pronounce fluently any sentence with this word (or similar words as well). When I repeated 'čtvrtok' alone, it was more or less OK, but when I wanted to say a full sentence, I had to stop, and take a breadth.
  36. Nino83 Senior Member

    This is what I was saying. At school, pronunciation is not taught adequately, so if one doesn't study it in time, he could keep a bad pronunciation for years and when he'll study it, learning can be slower.
  37. punctuate Senior Member

    The question is to what thing it ought to be adequate. Not everyone learns a language for travel (I don't, personally); and even those who do might choose to pay more attention to oher things than pronunciation.
  38. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    @Perhaps because it's a regular practice to explain pronunciation of foreign sounds using similar sounds of your native language. Apparently, German "ä" is the easiest way to explain the English "a" pronunciation, and once taught, only a few people want to really perfect it. Have you tried, btw, to get a grasp of Norwegian pronunciation? I have, and after half an hour my lips and tongue just burnt, so if I ever decide to learn the language, I will probably stay with Polish, English, or German way of pronunciation.

    Still, I have no idea why anyone should explain it that way - or explain it at all - when it is downright wrong and one could simply pronounce it right and have the students imitate that. In most cases it is not even the diphtong a like in "bake" or "sake" but the ones like in "back" or "tacky" that are pronounced with "ä".
    Even if somebody had a problem with that - I mean, at least they have to try before they can tell if they have a problem - even an open German "a" would at least make it sound a bit like some sort of a British dialect and not just like bad Germnglish.
  39. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    When I was a kid, I started learning German with Austrian teachers, and Austrian pronunciation and idioms remained in my German during many years. Today, I believe I can speak German with a 'neuter' German accent, more of Germany than of Austria. How I managed to do this? Well, I everyday listened to 'Radio DDR' over a decade, when DDR still existed, and tried to imitate their pronunciation. DDR radio stations were powerful at the time - for propaganda aims - and could be very well received in Italy. Apart from the political crap, DDR pronunciation was simply perfect (Buehnendeutsch), on the radio at least.
  40. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Yes, correct pronunciation & language were thingы they paid lots of attention in the former socialist states.

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