I began learning English in fifth grade. Back then, participation was voluntary but we did receive grades. Languages were always my strong point and I was very proficient in English when I began working at a U.S. air base in Germany after school and an apprenticeship. I have lived in the U.S. for twenty years now but I have never been able to shake my slight accent.
Some letters are more difficult than others: th, r, v, and w, for example. Which is why I will often say ‘nyjer’ instead of ‘thistle’ during my nature presentations. I am also unable to roll the R like an American. The other day, for example, I gave a talk at a library and asked the librarian for a cart to lug my equipment to the meeting room. She thought I was asking for a [library] card!
V and W are another impossible hurdle. They are very easy to pronounce in German but for the life of me I can’t master the pronounciation in English. This might be a problem because I am a public speaker but audience members have told me that they actually pay more attention because of my accent. And, if all else fails, I am also a very good speller!