This is another question that comes up quite often in the language classroom:
“Teacher, what’s the difference between accent and pronunciation?”
Well… in simple terms, accent is the voice you’ve developed based on where you were born and raised, your parents, family, classmates, etc all played a role in developing your accent in your mother tongue. Anyone has an accent! You realize it every time you move out of your area or comfort zone where most people speak like you.
Don’t even get me started with different British accents – one for every village and town.
Now… pronunciation refers to your intonation – the way you enunciate words and phrases.
I always tell my students that they don’t have to lose their accents – they are many times even considered charming by other speakers…. but they must be careful with their pronunciation so that they can be understood and not break down any communication attempt.
One example is the pronunciation of the letter R /r/ as a consonant sound. Many Brazilian, French and Spanish-speaking students find it hard to pronounce words such as
Rabbit – Raccoon – radio – red – Recipe – run etc
many times their default pronunciation with be with an H sound – they’ll say
Habbit – Haccoon – Hadio – Hed – Hecipe – Hun etc
My role as the teacher is to identify these problem sounds, raise the student’s awareness to it and encourage them to produce the adequate sound.
Speaking another language requires skills which can and must be developed.
So happy practice and keep on speaking.