a woman during her accent modification class working on her mouth patterns

How Can I Reduce My Accent to Sound Like a Native English Speaker?

For many Americans, English is their second language. This means that they may have an accent when speaking English. Accents are an integral part of our individual identities, and many people are proud of their accents, as they are reflections of our unique identities and backgrounds.

Accent modification is a form of speech therapy that focuses on reducing the prevalence of an accent in a non-native English speaker. For some individuals participating in accent modification, the goal may be to eliminate their accent and speak as a native English speaker would. For others, the goal is to reduce their accent to improve the ability of others to understand them, but they don’t wish to eliminate the accent completely.

When discussing accent modification or accent reduction, it is important to note that there is nothing wrong with speaking English with an accent. With more than 20 percent of the American population speaking a language other than English at home, accents are incredibly common. One of the most common accents found in the U.S. is Spanish, as more than 40 million Americans are native Spanish speakers. Spanish accent modification is one of the most popular forms of accent modification through working with a speech therapist.

Many individuals choose to modify their accent because it is getting in the way of their daily life. In these cases, it is often worth considering speech therapy for Spanish accent modification with the goal of being better understood by those around you.

If you have difficulty being understood by others due to your accent, speech therapy can be highly beneficial. Get started with one of our amazing therapists by scheduling your free introductory call today!

What Is Spanish Accent Modification?

Because Spanish and English have different roots, the accent that is gained from being a native speaker of either language will be significantly different. Spanish accent modification is simply the process of working to modify or decrease the sound of your Spanish accent when speaking English.

When working to modify your Spanish accent, it is important to consider that the English language has significantly more vowel sounds than Spanish does. English also has several different consonant sounds that don’t exist in the Spanish language at all. The rhythm of each language must also be taken into account, as well as the speed and rhythm of speech.

Spanish Accent Modification and English Pronunciation Tips

Be Aware Of Your Speed – Some romance languages, including French, Italian, and Spanish, are typically very fast-paced. Alternatively, English has a much slower pace. Begin by slowing the rate of your speech slightly, particularly on the words you want to stress or place importance on. When saying the most significant words more slowly, it becomes easier to make your point and be understood. In addition, slow down your speech when saying nouns, as they are often stressed in English, whereas in Spanish, the verb is usually stressed.

Note The Sound of English Consonants – While it is true that English and Spanish share almost exactly the same alphabet, the major difference is that the “Ñ” sound in Spanish does not exist in English. This can be misleading, however, as a handful of consonant sounds are pronounced radically differently in each language. Generally speaking, consonants are among the toughest when it comes to pronunciation, so below are just a few to focus on that will significantly impact your accent when speaking English.

The “th” sound does not exist in Spanish in the same format
The “z” sound can also be difficult. It is common for native Spanish speakers to replace it with an “s” sound, but this isn’t an accurate pronunciation in English. Also, for some words that have an “s”, the sound is closer to a “z” sound, and as a result, speaking this way can make it appear that you have a lisp.

Note How English Vowels Sound – The Spanish language only has five vowel sounds, whereas English has as many as twenty-one in various combinations. In fact, Spanish and English vowels are quite different in how they’re pronounced and spoken. Spanish speakers often tend to replace an English vowel sound with a Spanish vowel sound, and these are often too short for English. It may be necessary to practice lengthening your vowel sounds and stretching them until they sound more like those of a native English speaker.

Note the Sounds of English Contractions – Contractions are highly common in many spoken languages as a more informal mode of speech, as they keep the pace of a conversation moving along. Because these contractions don’t exist in Spanish in the same way, there is often some difficulty in adapting the related speech patterns. This is likely due to the cluster of consonants. It is important to remember to always make a distinct point of pronouncing each letter that follows the apostrophe.

If you want to learn more about how to reduce or modify your Spanish accent when speaking English, connect with one of our therapists by scheduling your free introductory call today!

Work With A Speech Therapist

Accents can be successfully modified with practice, time, and experience. Speech therapy for accent modification is not much different from helping native English speakers address certain speech problems, such as speech sound disorders. When working to reduce a Spanish accent, it can be incredibly helpful to have a well-trained ear to help you identify where your speech or accent is less clear so you know where to focus your efforts. Speech therapists are expertly educated and trained to hear the subtle differences in language and possess a wealth of accent-reduction techniques and methodologies that will teach you how to overcome your challenges.

However, it’s also important to note once again that there’s no reason why you should feel you must modify your accent. Many people are proud of their accents, as they feel it makes them unique and serves as a reminder of their home and heritage that they love so dearly.

If that’s you, then that is wonderful, and you should be proud of your accent.

If, however, you’re finding your accent may be getting in the way of your ability to communicate clearly and effectively, accent modification speech therapy is a perfect place to begin. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!