How do you sound to a native speaker?
If you know your CEFR level (A1, A2, B1 etc.), take a look at http://www.webcef.eu/@q=node-2F258.htm. They have example interviews and monologues of people learning English, from A1 to C1, along with comments by the graders. Listening to your level (or your target level) will give a pretty good idea of how you sound to a native speaker.
To sound like a native, I guess watching movies and TV shows from the same region will be very helpful. Also, I don't really believe you need to mimic the accent of any particular region (of speakers) to even get native level fluency in the language. If you are able to communicate with the level of ease needed for the particular level, and your diction is clear enough to make yourself understood to others, you should be able to clear the certification.
Also, I don't really believe you need to mimic the accent of any particular region (of speakers) to even get native level fluency any the language.
I totally agree. I don't understand why people harp so much on sounding like a native. Being fluent and sounding like a Parisian are not one and the same. Fortunately Sofia Vegara will never lose her charm, I guess she learned lessons from successful entertainers like Ricardo Montalbán, Desi Arnez and Rosie Perez.
I don't really agree. A study by the University of Chicago has shown that people tend to trust less people with a strong foreign accent. It even says the stronger the accent, the less they trust the speaker. Overall, with time, I've come to realize I only understand people with an accent I'm familiar with. For instance, for French speakers, I understand many accents, but I have trouble with some African accents, because I haven't heard enough African people speaking French. For English speakers, when I was in Malte, sometimes I couldn't make out if people were talking to me in English or in Maltese, as I'm not used to the Maltese accent in English.
Of course you don't have to sound perfect, but I am of those who try really hard to mimic the natives' accent. I'm often told my accent is good but I still sometimes have trouble making myself understood, which is incredibly frustrating.
People tend to trust less
Trust and fluency are different ideas. What was the sample of size of study from Chicago? Apparently many people trust Arnold Schwarzenegger to run California. I know bad example but it illustrates the idea of fluency. I grew up hearing and working with many heavy English accents and apparently several different Spanish accents.
That was great! I can take a written test and get C1 in Spanish, but I am clearly a B1, not even a B2. That was entertaining and informative. Thanks for posting it.