An accent is like a clue that tells people where someone is from, and in terms of a foreign language, it helps us to feel more connected and fluent in the target language. Whether you love or hate your accent, there’s not much you can do about it, because once you get one, it’s really hard to get rid of it.
We pick up our accents during our childhood; however, once we are adults, it is really hard to get rid of it. Why is this?
Our accent is engraved in our brains from when we are 6 months old. We are used to hearing our own accent and the people’s around us. Once we are exposed to a foreign language, especially when we are adults, it is difficult to pick up a new accent. We tend to learn our second language through writing rather than speaking. That explains why some people are better at writing than speaking in their second language. “You can’t learn a second language the way you learnt your first language”, says expert Katharine Nielson, “you just can’t hear the sounds in the same way”.
Adopting a different accent for a language you are fluent in is easier than adopting an accent for a foreign language, because your brain and ears get used to your native language.
Some people don’t bother trying to get rid of their accent, as they think this is part of their identity and are proud to show where they are from. In my personal opinion, I think that getting rid of it doesn’t mean you lose your identity, but is a way of communicating better in the target language. It is exhausting when you know how to write the word, but when you say it, native speakers don’t get it just because you put the stress where you shouldn’t.
Of course there are some cases in which people are fluent with barely a hint of their original accent in the second and even third language. I think this can be possible if you are surrounded by that accent for years and years.