Accent Reduction: 9 Ways to Communicate your Gifts with an Accent

Communication Barriers: Expressing your Gifts

“I know my game very well.  It’s a gift.  The point is to use it.”  -Roger Federer, US Open Champion

What does communication have to do with expressing your gifts?  Roger Federer, famous tennis player, and US Open Tennis Champion with 17 Grand Slam titles, spoke on one of my favorite interview shows.  He advocated for people to use their gifts.  For many of us, the ability to share and express our gifts is dependent on verbal communication.  Roger Federer doesn’t need to speak on the court to win tennis matches.  However, he speaks during interviews.  By speaking publicly, he creates connections with individuals that make up the general public.  He inspires people.  Although he speaks with an accent, he is relatively easy to understand.  There are just a few speech sounds that are distracting to the native English listener’s ears.

There are many times that fluent speakers of English as a second or other language experience communication barriers because of their foreign accents.  Speaking to others creates personal connections.  It develops relationships.  Accents can interfere with the ability to develop relationships.  This happens when the communication partners are so focused on trying to make sense of the words that the accented partners are pronouncing, that they can’t relax into the conversation.  The result is that the relationship takes a longer than usual amount of time to develop.  The communication isn’t EFFICIENT.

American English Accent: 9 Ways to Communicate your Gifts

  1. Pay attention to whether people are showing signs that they don’t understand you. Do they ask you to repeat yourself?
  2. Ask people if they are understanding you clearly. This will show that you are aware of the potential barriers of your accent.
  3. Put humor into your accent.  You’ll “lighten up” more often and learning will be easier.
  4. Find your “challenge” areas.  Become aware of the English sounds and rule patterns that are difficult.
  5. Practice accurate pronunciation of consonants, vowels, and diphthongs.  Work with your accent specialist.
  6. Practice linking sounds and words together.  Your speech will sound more interesting.
  7. Practice accurate syllable stress. When you are able to pronounce the sounds and put stress on the accurate syllables in longer words, you’ll sound more natural.
  8. Practice sound rule patterns.  Learn the rules that can be applied to specific scenarios in American speech.
  9. Celebrate your successes.  Recognize your efforts and instances of when your work improves your communication.

When you become more proficient with your knowledge of the American English sound system, and then implement what you know, you’ll be able to develop relationships faster.  Your communiation partners will be able to focus on YOU, not on the WAY YOU’RE SPEAKING.  Both of y ou will have more energy to build and strengthen your relationship.

Here’s to you communicating YOUR gifts!


PolinaSeptember 18th, 2013 at 8:19 am

Great article! Well organized and focused on the importance of improving our communications.
With appreciation,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Thank you Polina!

I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found it organized and easy to follow. Here’s to you sharing YOUR GIFTS 🙂


AmeliaSeptember 23rd, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Even after 13 years in the US it is so hard to escape the stigma that comes with my accent. There is a certain level of society that categorizes you as having a disability, regardless of how many other languages we may speak. I struggle with this daily. I am well educated , well mannered,but sometimes I feel I am being judged on everything else based on my accents.

Cher GundersonSeptember 23rd, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hello Amelia.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and frustarations. I have heard this sentiment from clients who feel they are also judged based on their accents. Just as there are people who judge others whether there is an accent or not, I believe that when dealing with these individuals, it’s important to keep in mind the source. These people are often either not educated or have a lack of experience with diversity.

I am curious Amelia. Do you find that the people who you sense judements from are those who have diverse backgrounds? Have you ever taken the opportunity to express your concerns? If so, what has been the outcome? If not, what is it that hold you back?

Thank you once again for sharing your personal experience and observations and for participating in this discussion for myself and others to learn from your experience.

With appreciation,


Leave a comment

Your comment

Site designed by: Webstylings