For 20 years I’ve been giving people completely Standard American English accents in a relatively short time. (Usually less than 10 sessions.) For some reason I’m still reading articles claiming that you can’t get rid of your accent unless you’re very young. (FYI my oldest client was 82!) Do you want to know how to get rid of your accent? It’s easy. Read on or scroll straight to the last paragraph if you don’t want to know the why.
You Can Get Rid of Your Accent
Those articles are misinforming you! You can easily get rid of your accent. This article here talks about how it’s difficult for your brain to hear sounds that are different from those of your native language. That’s the part that’s true. As babies, we’re auditorily bombarded with the sounds of our native language. But the flaws in the reasoning are two-fold.
- An accent is much more than just the sounds. The sounds play a very small role in an accent.
- Training you to hear your mistakes and the correct production is super easy. Necessary, yet easy.
This article says it’s science that you can’t change your accent! That’s hilarious! It’s science that you CAN change your accent 🙂 They say, “Your accent is here to stay” (not true) and, like the prior article, makes some truisms about accents. The truisms are that one substitutes the sounds of their native languages for the sounds of the 2nd language. Yes, that’s true.
The second truism is that one loses the ability to hear sounds. Both true. Unfortunately not addressing the fact that human’s ears are easily trained. It’s also true that most people can’t do it on their own. The article is correct that if we are left to our own devices our accents probably won’t go away. They need the help of speech coach to help them hear what they’re doing wrong resulting in your ability to change your accent.
You can easily change your accent.
The same article also addresses how some people feel that losing their accent would cause them to lose their identity. How you speak is absolutely not your identity! Your identity is not superficial! Your identity is how smart you are and how funny you are. It’s what’s inside of you! That’s your identity! What’s more likely is that your accent is disguising your identity. It’s making it harder for people to understand your message. It can hide just how funny you are. It can also hide how smart you are. To get ahead in this world you need people to see how smart you are. Getting rid of your accent changes that 🙂
When you speak your native language speak it to a fare-thee-well. When you speak your second & third languages speak them to a fare-thee-well also. The ultimate trick? Just train your ear. Here’s 4 more steps.
Tip: Working hard on producing your sounds causes your accent to get worse. It results in your being super choppy & using a flat intonation pattern. Causing your speech to sound accented. Instead work on gluing your words together into “breath groups” separated into pauses.and using a back resonance.
How to Get Rid of Your Accent
Getting rid of your accent causes you to be taken seriously at work. It results in people clearly understanding your message & seeing the real you!
Firstly, train your ear. Listen for the sounds in Standard American English. Also listen for the rhythm & intonation patterns. Notice that there’s a rise and fall of intonation & it depends on the information the speaker is delivering.
Next you have to use lots of air for speech. Just make sure you match your voice to the air. Unless sounding like Marilyn Monroe works for you.
Then apply those same sound & rhythm patterns to your speech. Be sure to record yourself a lot!
Lastly, measure your success in increments. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect. Just determine what’s getting better. 🙂