The three things the brain needs for you to reduce your accent, are also the 3 main things needed to change any behaviour or acquire any new skill.
I recently participated in a workshop for ‘The Listening Program’, which is a great sound therapy program I’ve been using with students for a while now, and these 3 things the brain needs were emphasised over and over again.
This is also one of the basic messages in Norman Doige’s book, “The Brain That Changes Itself.”
The First Thing the Brain Needs to Reduce Your Accent Is: Frequency
– frequency of repetition like anything you do to make new body/ mouth movements automatic. To reduce your accent, you need to frequently repeat ALOUD.
– frequency of noticing if you are placing your mouth parts differently from the way you normally place them
– frequency noticing if you are placing your mouth parts not just differently, but also organising your mouth the way it’s described in our detailed description and video training pictures in our training courses.
– frequently practising words and word combinations that are new or difficult over and over and over, and not just doing it a couple of times and expecting it to become automatic. In our course you may need to repeat a lesson a few times to have your mouth pronouncing something correctly and automatically.
– frequency of practise – once a week gets different results to the frequency of daily practise, even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day. Pick the same time each day and that’s your practise DONE!
The Second Thing the Brain Needs to Reduce Your Accent Is: Intensity
To reduce your accent, intensity of how and what you practise matters.
– intensely practising words and word combinations that are new or difficult over and over and over. Focusing high energy and attention into your practise. Noticing changes and how it feels and sounds to pronounce something the correct/new way.
– intensity and depth of practise:
If a word or sound or combination of words is hard, try the intensity of walking around your house saying that same phrase over and over and over, till it just easily rolls out of your mouth. Then put it in a sentence you commonly use and do the same.
For example, going from a word ending in a consonant, to a word beginning with a voiced ‘th’, plus an /r/ word (that is without saying the ‘th’ as a /d/, and using your new /r/!!)
Practise phrases: on the radio; in the roof; seen those results; around that region.
– intensity of concentration so that you continue to notice you are saying it right each time
The Third Thing the Brain Needs to Reduce Your Accent Is: Duration
– making new neurological pathways to reduce your accent for a word you find tricky may only take 1 week (or less depending on frequency and intensity!)
– with the right amount of intensity and frequency you can already notice a difference and reduction in your accent in 2-3 weeks. It takes time to reduce a whole accent! It took time to learn the accent you have!
Keep yourself motivated for a longer duration by:
– recording yourself and playing back to hear your progress (keep the initial recording to compare)
– making up a song with a particular new sound. Include the words/ phrases you need to practise
– have a 15 minute dance to your favourite music each day and practise your accent reduction at the same time. Doing physical organisational activity while practising clear speech, can speed up integrating your new pronunciation. Also try throwing a ball backwards and forwards with someone while you are trying to make your new pronunciation automatic (first learn how to say it the new way before you do this).
– have a chart with a couple of things you need to work on and tick them off as you go
– notice when people don’t ask you to repeat yourself as much – do a tally to track progress
– just start and keep going. Video yourself reading a few lines of something, and re-record yourself after a month and notice how you are going. Pay attention to 2 things: what you have been practising, and your general accent reduction and speech clarity.
Keep these three things in mind then as you work on reducing your accent- frequency, intensity and duration.
Best wishes, Esther