There are a frightening number of people who believe that pronunciation is something that comes naturally with practice. To this group, learning or practicing proper pronunciation doesn’t matter. It’s frightening because it’s wrong. People have a great capacity to learn language, but not without the proper practice. And people learning Chinese seem to hate practicing pronunciation, despite constantly encountering situations where their Chinese is misunderstood. Most Chinese learners don’t speak nearly as well they think. I’ve listed a couple of excuses people use to avoid studying pronunciation.
Progress is hard to measure
Benjamin, made a great point on a previous post about tones
a lot of students aren’t interested in learning the tones, or at least aren’t interested in putting enough focus on them. Learning things like grammar and vocabulary can be done more passively, I think, and also yields quicker gains, so I think there is a tendency for students to put off actively practicing tones while they focus on basics like vocabulary. (read Benjamin’s full comment)
I’ve talked a lot about the improtance of progress before. Without a sense of progress, it’s hard to stay motivated enough to achieve one’s goals. But practicing pronunciation simply cannot show you progress like an SRS (Spaced-Repitition System). Improving pronunciation can only be measured over months, not days. To start speaking better Chinese, you will have to take a leap of faith and start practicing your pronunciation more.(bold)
Adults can’t learn languages/pronunciation
There’s this very pervasive state of mind that most people believe to be fact, which is that if you start learning a language past the age of say, 15, you will not be able to truly master its foreign accent/pronunciation. It’s not true, it just takes very hard work to train your brain and mouth muscles to master new pronunciation when the brain has already finished developing so rapidly, but many people just accept this theory and thus never truly apply themselves in this area.
Adults don’t learn languages as readily as kids. But the physiological reasons that make learning pronunciation easier for kids can be overcome with practice. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you won’t be able to do it. Instead of using this a reason you can’t, turn it into a challenge you want to overcome.