How Can I Lose my Accent?
Desire and Determination
Perhaps you have a specific goal in mind, professional and /or social which requires better pronunciation.
Your desire and determination to achieve your goal, combined with proper instruction and practice is the formula for your success.
Believe it or not, you are already on your way to improving your pronunciation simply because you want to improve your pronunciation. The fact that you care, is extremely significant. Caring will automatically cause you to develop a heightened awareness of how you’re speaking. Of course, you need more than just the desire to change. You need instruction and training.
Instruction and Knowledge
In order to lose your accent, you must first become aware of all the sounds of English. For example, there are five vowels in the Latin alphabet- A, E, I, O and U. However, there arefifteen vowels sounds in English! You are probably already aware of some but not all of them.
Losing your accent involves learning how to properly articulate the vowels and consonant sounds, practicing daily with specially designed exercises and finally, using them habitually in your everyday speech.
Did You Know?
There are five vowels in the Latin alphabet, but fifteen vowel sounds in English!
You will be given detailed instructions as to how to move your tongue, lips and jaw so as to produce a specific sound of English correctly.
You will learn to recognize and produce the subtle distinctions that exist in the English sound system.
You will also be taught the “tricks” of pronunciation which all educated Americans use when speaking in social conversation.
You will learn the rules of intonation and syllable stress. Fun and simple exercises will develop the authentic intonation and rhythm patterns of native speakers. Before you know it , you will find yourself “in the groove” of real American speech.
You are encouraged to bring in any texts and or discussion topics relevant to your life to supplement the materials provided.
Training and Practice are key!
Accent reduction is a lot like training a sport, an instrument or dance. You have to practice and train if you want results. Just as an athlete, dancer or musician, masters the movements of their routines, so too will you, through intensive and structured practice, reach your goals.
Vowel by vowel , consonant by consonant, phrase by phrase, you will master the sounds of English.
You will develop new habits. You will begin to hear and pronounce English in a whole new way: the right way.
The correct pronunciation of sounds and words will become a part of you. This is known as “muscle memory. “
Ultimately, you succeed in reaching your goal!
What is an Accent ?
What exactly do we mean by the word accent ?
Essentially, an accent is the process by which a speaker substitutes a sound from their native language for a sound from English. This “transference” occurs mainly for two reasons.
The first reason is that the speaker is not aware that a specific sound exists in English. Hence, they use the closest sound from their native language instead.
For example, many students are unaware of the sound /I/ as in the word “chip” or “big.” As a result, when saying the word “chip”,they substitute a similar sound which exists in their native language. Usually, they choose /i/ as in the word “see or meet”.
So a word like “chip” ends up sounding like “cheap” and there it is , an accent -not to mention some confusion in mid -conversation.
The second reason a speaker substitutes the wrong sound is that he or she may simplyfind it too difficult to pronounce the correct sound.
For example, many students are aware of the sound /th/ as in think or that. However the articulation of the sound is just too difficult or feels unnatural The result is that /th/ is pronounced like /s/ /z/ or /d/.
The word “that”, may sound like “zat” or “ dat”. The student chooses /z/ or /d/ because it’s easier and “close enough.”
Another element of an accent is incorrect intonation.
English has a melody. You have to become aware of the intonation patterns of English. Don’t worry. They are simple patterns and you don’t have to have musical training or a musical ear to learn them. Anybody can do it. It doesn’t involve specific pitches – just knowing when and how to raise your pitch and to lower it.
Finally, some people have accents because they put the stress in the wrong places of words and sentences.
For example instead of saying convince
They might say: convince
This can be very confusing for a listener. But there are simple rules to guide you when you’re not sure.
Once you learn the rules, it gets easier and the stress patterns start to become second nature.
Other aspects of an accent include not connecting sounds and vocal quality such as nasality. These can all be corrected with the right training exercises.