A UWS Marcs Institute study looking at babies and language, found that Australian infants have difficulty understanding the Australian accent. This is quite interesting seeing that for as long as we know, babies have routinely been able to crack the speech code, regardless of the type of code that is. They found that while Australian English is a more relaxed style of the English language, it can also make it hard for babies to learn new words.
The Australian English sound system has 20 vowel sounds, many of which are very similar. The research showed that these vowel differences are not easy to learn. When comparing other English accents, babies were able to more easily recognise changes in sounds in Canadian English, than in Australian English mainly due to these similarities in Australian sounds.
What does this research mean for adult learners?
It seems that for adult migrants who are new to Australia, it may take a bit longer to master Australian English, particularly when it comes to learning Australian vowels. This can often be a difficult area to learn because there are so many different vowel sounds, some of which are quite similar to each other.
The process of adapting to, understanding and speaking with an Australian accent, can be accelerated by enrolling in an Australian accent course which focusses on the key aspects of the Australian accent and in particular, pronunciation of some of these difficult vowel sounds.