Students who want to learn English often aspire to eventually having a "perfect" English accent rather than an accent from their first language. They believe that their English learning journey will not be finished until they sound like a native speaker.
It is understandable that a lot of people have this attitude, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to perfect a skill. As a matter of fact, I am always very impressed when I meet someone whose English is at such a high level that I mistook them for being English at the start of our conversation. I always reflect on what an incredible achievement this is.
This perfection takes a long time, and it is important to have someone around you to correct your pronunciation, especially when you start to learn English, and also throughout your journey. English lessons in a language school are very important because your teacher can correct your pronunciation and stop you learning and practising pronunciation errors. These errors can be very hard to change if you have been making them for many years, so it is always better to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding pronunciation errors at the early stages of your English language development.
A lot of time is needed to have "perfect" English pronunciation, and most people do not achieve this amazing skill even after many years of living in England. There is also the question of which native English speaker accent you would like, or which one is "perfect" anyway. There are so many English accents from very formal "received pronunciation" to regional accents (This is a topic for another post in the future).
The question I am considering in this post is: Do you need a perfect English accent? Or to ask the same question in a different way: Is there anything wrong with sounding like you come from the country you do in fact come from? I am asking this question because a lot of the people who want to learn English at our language school in Brighton get anxious about their accent.
I believe that if your English speaking is clear, and everyone can understand you, then your accent is perfect. It is only a problem if your accent is so strong that people don’t understand what you are saying. If you are Spanish, for example, and you sound Spanish when you speak English, but everyone can easily understand you, what is the problem? Your accent is part of your identity, so be proud of it and be proud of who you are.
Our accents are important. If you are French and you sound French when you speak, that is fine! If you want people to think you are English and you enjoy working on your accent and you have about 10 years in England to work on it, great! English accents that sound like native speakers are very impressive, but if you are learning English and you are worried about your accent – please don’t worry. Clarity is what matters. After all, what is the purpose of language anyway? Communication! Can you communicate effectively with an accent? Yes!
In conclusion, if you want to sound like a native speaker that is fantastic, but don’t worry about it too much because it might not be as important as you think. Be yourself!