How to Achieve a Near Native Chinese Accent with Professor Karen Chung (Podcast)

Professor Karen Chung delivering her Ted Talk in 2018

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On today’s podcast, I chat with a very distinguished guest. Someone who has designed a technique she believes can help learners of any language achieve near native accents.

Karen Chung from the USA has lived in Taiwan for more than 30 years and for most of that time has worked as a linguistics professor at the National Taiwan University.

In 2018 a Ted Talk which she delivered in flawless Mandarin received over a million views and brought her methods to the attention of a large international audience.

In the video she explains her accent training technique which she calls the echo method. The method which is based on her own learning experiences takes advantage of our echoic memory.

First we listen to a sentence or phrase in our target language, waiting for the audio to replay or echo in our minds, before finally mimicking it out loud. Doing it this way allows us to mimic native speech much more closely than conventional listen and repeat methods.

In this podcast, we explore her own language learning journey, how she learned Mandarin to such a high level and why she disagrees with conventional language learning opinion which argues accents don’t matter as long as we can more or less make ourselves understood.

She also kindly agreed to give me a brief demonstration of her method to help improve my own Mandarin accent.

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