Accent Reduction: 9 Tips to Speed your American Accent Progress
Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out their music. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
The quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes can be likened to learning to speak a second language with a natural, native-sounding accent. Here we share 9 tips for speeding your American accent progress. Mastering an accent takes awareness, focus, and practice. If you’re currently working with an accent reduction specialist to speak English with a natural-sounding accent, here are 9 tips on how to speed your accent progress. Take what you’re learning in your accent modification programming and maximize your progress outs ide of sessions. If you haven’t started working with an accent reduction specialist, you can still apply these tips.
1. Celebrate your Efforts
Accents are complex. Celebrate your efforts of learning the American English accent. Even within the same country, the same language is spoken with different accents. There are regional accents for the same language. For example, I speak one category of 25 or more accents in America; the Midwestern accent. There are potentially five types of Midwestern accents alone with additional subcategories! The same is probably true of your own individual accent within your first language. Celebrate your efforts at taking on the challenge of learning new accent habits!
2. Take Perspective
You’ve probably seen a native English speaker trying to speak a language other than English. We as Americans speaking English as our first language struggle to learn “new” accents just as the person who is learning an American accent. I know from my own experience speaking Spanish, and learning to speak Hindi and Urdu sentences the relevance of following these tips for mastering an accent.
3. Be Aware
Be aware of how you’re speaking compared to how native English speakers are speaking. Listen to how the vowels are spoken. Listen to how the consonants are spoken. Listen to rhythm. Listen to pitch changes. Listen to grammar. Listen for exceptions to rules. Do you notice that the way a letter is spoken in some words is different than the way it is spoken in other words? Is the same ending letter in a word spoken differently based on what other sounds surround it? Are there rules to explain these differences? Are there exceptions to these rules?
Focus on a specific American accent skill you’re learning. Are you learning a specific vowel or consonant pronunciation? Are you learning a specific pronunciation rule that shows you how to pronounce a specific consonant based on where it’s located in words or sentences? Are you practicing your rate of speaking? Are you practicing where you place stress in words with more than one syllable? Focusing on these specific skills will speed your progress.
5. Speak Often
Create your own opportunities to practice your American English accent. Speak often. Remember- be aware and keep focus on the accent skill you’re practicing. Awareness and focus will help you change your newly learned accent skill to an accent habit. The more your American accent becomes habit, the greater your speed of progress.
7. Record your Accented Voice
Record and play back yourself speaking while practicing your American accent skills. This will increase your awareness and focus. You’ll be able to get a “second chance” to listen to your voice to score the accuracy of your performance (see below). It will also help change your accent skills to accent habits.
6. Systematically Practice
Practice your accent skills within a system. For example, practice individual vowel and consonant sounds alone, then in syllables, then in words with one syllable, next in words with progressively more syllables. Progress to sentences, then to conversation. Your accent reduction specialist can provide you with carefully selected materials to practice outside of your scheduled accent reduction sessions based on your current level of proficiency.
7. Score your Own Practice
When you are recording your American accented voice during practice, score it. For example, write a “+” or a “-” to indicate whether you are accurate in your skill. Total the number of times you recorded a “+” and a “-“. Divide the total number of “+” by the total number of “-” to obtain a percentage of accuracy. This will give you an objective measurement of your American accent skill. Use this data to celebrate your success and move to the next set of exercises in your system. If you are not as successful as you’d like, consider it a success that you’ve realized you need to move to an easier set of exercises. Sometimes in order to speed our progress, we need to go in reverse.
8. Record your Confidence Level
As you continue to practice and speak using your American accent skills, you’ll gain more and more confidence in your American English accent. Keep a record. Write down the date of your practice. Rate your confidence level in the skill you are practicing before you practice, and then again after you practice. Watch for trends upward. This will be concrete feedback that you’re making progress. If your confidence level isn’t increasing, examine why not. Perhaps you can practice more often. Maybe you need to move to an easier set of exercises to become proficient before moving to the next set. Are you accurately scoring your success? Perhaps you need to consult with your accent reduction specialist in order to make sure your self-scoring is accurate. Are you selecting relevant skills to practice? Your accent modification specialist can help you identify which skills are a priority over others.
9. Make and Follow a Plan
Creating a written plan and even planning the days and times you will practice keeps you accountable to yourself. When you write something down, it means it’s a priority. When you plan something, you automatically assign it importance. When you stick to a schedule, you further solidify its importance. Practice on a regular basis across time within your plan. By practicing regularly, your American accent skills become routine. When you’re in a routine, practicing will seem less like work and more like a natural part of your day.
If you’re interested in learning in detail how to implement these specific recommendations, or would like additional information on how to change your accent and make it sound more American, contact Cher Gunderson at (920) 362-2359 or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Share your Experiences, Comment, or Ask Questions
We hope this blog was valuable to you. Click on the comments section at the end of this article, scroll to the bottom, and leave a comment and/or question. We’ll be happy to respond. It is Master Your Accent’s mission to empower you to communicate your message clearly the first time. When you can communicate clearly the first time, you’re confident. That means you can fully express your skills, talents, personality, and spirit!
Here’s to you speeding your American accent progress!