How to get rid of an accent?
First up, don’t be embarrassed about your accent, it means that you can speak more than one language! Did you know that 40% of the world’s population can only speak one?
Furthermore, if you can speak 3 languages or more fluently, you rank among only 13% of the world’s population. And a mere 1% can speak 5 languages or more.
Okay, now that we’ve established how amazing you are, back to the accent. You may be able to say what you want to, but what if you’re finding that people have a hard time understanding you? That’s a good reason to lose your accent as much as you can.
Read on to learn how to perfect your English accent as much as possible.
1. Follow the Pace
Every language has it’s own pace. It makes sense when listening to a foreign language that it sounds like the speaker is talking fast because it’s a jumble of random sound to you. But it’s actually true that some languages are spoken faster than others.
This study compared native speakers of 8 different languages reading the same passage, each in their own language. Then, they counted the number of syllables each speaker spoke.
Surprisingly, even though all speakers conveyed the information in roughly the same amount of time, the number of syllables varied dramatically from language to language. So speakers of languages that used more syllables spoke faster than those who used fewer syllables.
English was on the slower end, with Mandarin being the slowest. Spanish and Japanese each contained more syllables and their speakers zipped along faster.
So if you’re coming from speaking a faster language like Spanish or Japanese, you may be speaking English too fast. This will sound odd to a native speaker’s ear and they will have a harder time understanding you.
2. Listen, Listen, Listen
How do you learn the correct pace? Listen to everything you can get your hands on in English. Watch movies or TV programs, listen to podcasts, play music, and whatever else you can find.
Even if you don’t understand everything that is being said, your brain is learning the pace. You’re getting used to what English should sound like when spoken correctly.
Learning to sing along with the songs is a great way to practice your enunciation as well. Music affects a different part of your brain than regular speech so it helps to create new connections and remember more words.
Plus, saying the same words over and over again and imitating the singer as you learn the lyrics help hone your pronunciation.
3. Talk with Native Speakers
Perhaps the single best way to practice a language is to talk with native speakers. After all, that’s how we all learn our first language.
Listening to the language is a huge part of it and you can do that part on your own as we’ve already talked about. But to truly speak a language, you’ve got to talk and who better to talk with than native speakers?
If you live in an English-speaking country, this will be a little easier since all you have to do is leave your house.
If possible find a patient friend who you can talk to on a regular basis. If you don’t live in an area with native speakers, look into connecting with one online. There are platforms that will connect speakers together from all over the world.
You can choose a paid service or look for one where you can return the favor. That is, the English speaker with whom you connect is interested in learning your language as well. Thus, you spend part of the conversation speaking in English and part of it speaking in your native language.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your friend to point out the areas where you can improve. Learning a language is a big task and a little humility will go a long way!
4. Learn the Idiosyncracies
Sometimes in English, words flow together. This is referred to as “connected speech.” For example, when speaking a word ending in a consonant followed by a word beginning with the same consonant, that consonant is often only pronounced once.
Another example is that ‘t’ and ‘x’ sounds often disappear when sandwiched between two consonants.
Native speakers of English also use a lot of contractions. For example, you won’t often hear ‘do not’ or ‘cannot’ from a native speaker. Instead, you’ll hear ‘don’t’ or ‘can’t’.
Another thing to keep in mind is that English speakers use a lot of slang and idioms. This can be harder to learn because you won’t always find this content in a textbook. But listening to native speakers helps a lot and eventually you’ll pick it up.
Keep in mind that slang and idioms vary depending on the area. Even native American English speakers might not understand the slang or idioms that an Australian speaker uses. Since it is such a big country, some words are even used differently in different parts of the United States.
If you’re learning English to live in or visit a certain country or area, try to target your learning towards that area’s particular bent. An American speaker might know what you mean, but they’ll certainly look at you funny if you say you’re going to open the boot of your car.
How to Get Rid of an Accent the Right Way
Don’t expect to learn how to get rid of an accent overnight. It will take time and lots of practice. The good news is, it’s possible!
Recognize the sounds that give you the most trouble and focus on practicing them. It will take a while for your muscles to get used to it, but once they do, people might even start mistaking you for a native speaker!
If you need further help with your pronunciation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation.