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I believe that as long as a foreign accent is understandable it can even be used as an asset, instead of liability. Problem is, every time I'm being taught to speak more clearly I'm being taught to remove or minimize my accent. I don't want that. I want to be able to speak as clearly as possible, yet keeping my foreign accent as much as possible. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very good example of what I'm talking about.

Keep accent, improve clarity of speech, how?

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    Hire Schwarzenegger to tutor you? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 23 '17 at 20:49
  • Find someone online who has the same native language as yourself and speaks good English and copy that person. – Lambie Oct 23 '17 at 21:05
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    I'm not sure this question is completely on-topic, but one thing I've noticed is that it's often not so much the accent per se that makes people hard to understand as it is the prosody of their speech: the rhythms and patterns and tones of their speech. In my opinion, while people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Henry Kissinger have strong accents, their prosody is actually pretty good, whereas the stereotypical Indian call-center employee may have decent pronunciation but terrible prosody. – stangdon Oct 23 '17 at 22:14
  • @stangdon Agreed, especially the rhythm of speech. Arnold has a strong accent but he speaks carefully and you can understand each word, not going super-speed like native speakers.You should write an answer. – user3169 Oct 23 '17 at 22:23
  • Kissinger most certainly does not have a strong accent. It is very light. I guess by prosody you mean what is called intonation, generally. The question is, in fact, completely off topic. – Lambie Oct 24 '17 at 12:55
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I agree that an accent can be attractive to people and can be an asset for you. However, I disagree that Schwarzenegger's accent has always been an asset for him. While it has generally worked for him in roles like Conan and the Terminator, I would say it was a liability in his now-defunct political career. Countless standup comedians have mocked him over the years for the ponderous thickness of his accent.

Look at the other end of the spectrum, at someone like Zsa Zsa Gabor, who clearly showed that she was quick and smart and sophisticated while retaining the "spiciness" of her Hungarian accent. Same with Ivana Trump. And Sofia Vergara has a very amusing accent on Modern Family (though she gets criticized for making it too stereotypical). And American politicians often play up their dialects as well; JFK and Bill Clinton come to mind.

So it can definitely be an asset.

I don't know if you can get a real answer for a question like this, but I think it's good to keep this in mind: A little goes a long way. I think the best course of action is to master English as best you can, with as little accent as possible. Through mastery, you will begin to understand which parts of your accent are good to keep and which should be removed. I think it's important to show that your accent doesn't impede your quick understanding of English in any way. You don't want your accent ever to get in the way of actual communication, so mastery of English is crucial.

And it's not like you will forget how to speak your original tongue. You can always re-assess and change how much of it you want to incorporate into your English. I suspect this is a process that evolves over a lifetime.

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Are you seriously concerned that you risk mastering English pronunciation to the point where your accent will no longer be at all discernible to native speakers? If you began speaking English with relative fluency at the age of 10 or less, that might be a concern. If not, I'd say to just focus on the "understandable" part and let the accent do its thing.

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    This answer is absolutely correct. My father-in-law immigrated to the US at the age of 12. He learned English well enough that he passed the bar exam and had a successful legal career. Yet he never lost his accent: "pressure" was a word he never learned to pronounce correctly in English. – Jeff Morrow Dec 23 '17 at 14:55
  • Thanks. I imagine it could be improved by links to studies on language acquisition in children vs. adults and how our brains are actually different. But although I'm sure I've read some, I don't actually remember any names or authors. – joiedevivre Dec 23 '17 at 19:23

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