Should You Change Your Accent In English? Define Your Speech Goal Today!
Hi, it’s Lee’at from Speak More Clearly!
Today, I wanna talk to you about a bit of a controversial topic.
Should you change your accent in English?
“Be yourself. You don’t need to speak like someone else.”
“Be yourself, be proud of your own accent. That’s your identity. You don’t need to speak like someone else.”
“I’m clear and confident, but I love my accent and Americans love it too because Americans speak English so well.”
“My accent is perfect. It’s Brazilian just like me.”
We absolutely agree. Well, kind of, we absolutely agree that people should be themselves and be proud of their identity and speak confidently. The problem is not everyone feels confident when they speak.
Reasons why we don’t feel confident when we speak:
1. You feel you don’t have the same command over the language when you speak English as you do when speaking in your mother tongue. The ability to improvise and play with words and get your message across the way you want to.
2. You feel your accent is holding them back from moving into leadership positions in your career because you’re not always understood.
Whatever the reason is – the reason you want to improve your speech, the reason you’re still watching this video, that speech goal you’re trying to achieve that is right for you, and no one should tell you that your goals are wrong!
Everyone deserves to feel confident when they speak and feel they can communicate the way they want to. Whether that’s improving your pronunciation, so you speak more clearly or completely getting an American Australian or British accent.
What is the difference between pronunciation and accent?
Many people, especially native English speakers seem to think that pronunciation and accent are two totally separate things which leads us to the question: Can you change one without the other?
The answer is a bit complicated. You can change your pronunciation so that your speech is clearer without getting rid of or completely changing your accent. However, it’s impossible to change your pronunciation without affecting your accent at all.
So by definition, if you’re changing your pronunciation, you’re also changing your accent, at least in some way. Take this before and after from our student as an example. In the before clip, Kazu has a strong Japanese accent and his speech is quite unclear. In the after clip, his speech is clearer. Yes, he still has a Japanese accent. His accent isn’t totally American but because certain vowels such as the /i/ vowel in the word orbiting are pronounced more clearly and his stress and rhythm patterns are more natural. His accent has changed to some extent.
When you focus on changing your pronunciation of specific sounds, you will become clearer and more easy to understand. Although focusing on pronunciation of specific sounds can also have an impact on your accent.
For example, if we take /o/ vowel depending on how you pronounce this vowel sound, your accent will totally change.
Australian: hot /hɒt/
American: hot /hɑːt/
What your speech goal is determines what you should focus on
Native speakers modify their speech and adapt it to fit into a new place and a new culture. When you focus on your stress and rhythm patterns, you will change your accent and sound more natural when speaking. So what your goal is can determine what you should focus on. If your goal is to sound like a native speaker, focus on your vowel sounds and try to make them sound exactly the same as the native speaker. You’re mimicking. Also, focus on perfecting your stress and rhythm patterns.
If you’re trying to get clearer and stop having to repeat yourself all the time, get clear on what’s making you unclear and work on that.
Whether it’s not pronouncing your consonant sounds properly at the ends of words or using voiced versus unvoiced /th/ properly or changing your vowel sounds.
How will you know what your goal should be?
1. Pay attention to what’s making you feel frustrated about your speech.
2. Figure out what you need to do to work on that.
3. Do you need to know what mistakes you’re making?
4. Do you need to know the correct way to move your mouth to pronounce new sounds?
Once you’ve figured out your English speech goal and what you need to work on, that’s when you can get to work.
Speak more clearly, live more confidently and define your speech goal today.
Check out more videos on how to improve English accent and pronunciation on our channel and actually get started working on some of these elements in English.