There are several reasons that it is difficult to learn a new accent:

  1. We are never taught the sounds of a new language.  Most people learn a second language from another ESL speaker.  You never “hear” or focus on the differences between the two languages.
  2. Our ability to hear sounds, rhythms, and intonations of languages decreases as we age.  When we learn a language later in life, we hear the other langauge through the filter of our native language’s sound system.
  3. Pronunciation becomes habitual.  You must create a new habit to include new patterns from another language.  You need to change the shape of your mouth, your tongue placement, and when you use your voice.  This is extremely difficult since you have talked a certain way for many years.