Padma wanted to get rid of her accent for a variety of reasons. One being that she hated when everyone asked her, “Where are you from?” as soon as she opened her mouth to speak. Another reason was that she knew that people had to work too hard to understand her & that it was limiting her prospects at work.
So she took a few accent reduction courses.. Each time her instructor gave her a book or a piece of paper with a particular sound on it and she practiced producing that sound till she was blue in the face. But after many sessions when she thought her accent would be gone–it wasn’t. Very frustrating.
You can’t get rid of your accent by just practicing sounds.
You want to know why it didn’t get rid of her accent? A few reasons.
- All that work on sounds makes your speech choppy and staccato.
- Each letter in English can represent multiple sounds.
- To get clear, persuasive speech (which Padma didn’t learn) into your life you need to work hierarchically–from easy speaking situations to challenging ones.
What if everything you’ve ever thought about accent reduction was wrong? What if everything you’re doing right now to improve your accent is actually making it worse?
The bad news: It probably is.
The good news: The solution is simple.
Traditional accent reduction trains us to over-pronounce our sounds & have a staccato intonation pattern. Making it very difficult for our listeners to understand us and do what we want them to do. We need our listeners to think we’re smart, hire us, buy our widget, invest in our startup, find us to be credible, don’t we?What if everything you’ve ever thought about accent reduction was wrong? It probably is. Click To Tweet
Over-pronouncing our sounds makes speech very choppy. But when you went to that accent reduction class you were busy repeating “errrr” and “thhhhh” all over the place weren’t you?
Having a flat intonation pattern makes it very hard for our brains to process information.
Intonation is information.
Get Rid of Your Accent During Routine Situations
If you want to get rid of your accent & want to make your listeners to understand you, please follow these steps :
- Glue your words together. Write down what you’re going to say and put a slash between phrases. Everything within the slashes should be connected with your voice.
- Talk in the back of your mouth, not in the front. The Standard American English (SAE) accent is a very rare language in that it uses a resonance that hovers over the back of your tongue. If you’re using front resonance you end up with deep nasolabial lines and a very thin resonance. This doesn’t make you sound crystal clear, credible, authoritative or warm. Here’s how:
- Stop using your lips to formulate your sounds. I know it sounds crazy because that’s what everyone has told you to do thus far. That’s wrong!
- Pull down the back of your tongue and let the air focus it’s vibration there.
- Use a varied intonation pattern. Make sure that you make some vowels shorter & quieter and some vowels longer & louder. You’ll find more details here.
- Use linking. If one word ends in the same sound and the next word begins only say the sound once. For example:
What time is it? becomes: Whatimeisit?
My hands are really cold. becomes: Myhandsereelikold
Get Rid of Your Accent Off-the-Cuff
To get all of this into your running speech requires bringing your new skills through the hierarchy of your life. As you go through your day take note of what you say throughout the day. Chart the easy speaking situations and work on those areas first. Continue to work through your hierarchy until it becomes a habit. More on getting these new skills into your life. As always, come & see us to make it work fast!