learn English accent accent reduction course

How To Improve Your Eng­lish Accent – WHERE TO START

Are you some­one who wants to improve your Eng­lish accent but don’t know where to start? If that’s you,  this arti­cle is def­i­nite­ly going to help you and give you great tips.

How To Improve Your Eng­lish Accent- Where to start

Tip 1 To Improve Your Eng­lish Accent

Start with what you know you have trou­ble with- 

Don’t avoid it because you think it will be hard.  Usu­al­ly what you know you are hav­ing trou­ble pro­nounc­ing, will make a big dif­fer­ence to your clear speech and con­fi­dence once you work on it. 

Most peo­ple, no mat­ter what their back­ground lan­guage, have trou­ble with the unvoiced and voiced ‘th’ sounds, and the /r/ sound. Most lan­guages don’t have a ‘th’ sound, and most /r/ sounds are said dif­fer­ent­ly in each lan­guage.  Anoth­er area a lot of peo­ple have trou­ble with is sound­ing flow­ing and not chop­py or bumpy in Eng­lish.  If this is true for you, work on Eng­lish stress and rhythm.   You may be find­ing it dif­fi­cult to say the con­so­nant blends or clus­ters ( 2 or more con­so­nants togeth­er)  in your Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion, so work on this. 

Tip for ‘th’ sounds

-hold your tongue between your teeth long enough so you don’t flick it back for the next sound too quick­ly

-hold the front of your tongue out wide between your teeth. This makes it eas­i­er to hold it long enough while you let the air out over it.

Tip for Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion of con­so­nant clus­ters

-write out a list of words that you habit­u­al­ly say in Eng­lish that have two or more con­so­nants togeth­er in them. Then, prac­tise 6 words a day for a week. Next, put them in sen­tences and prac­tise them. Then move on to 6 more etc.

– when you start out go real­ly slow­ly and con­trol the move­ments in your mouth, e.g. ssstop,  havvbeen (have been), thrrree, innthe (in the)- the dou­ble or triple let­ter here means to hold it on a lit­tle longer and con­trol your mouth mov­ing to the next con­so­nant.  Once your mouth is used to the new move­ment, then speed up. After all, you are work­ing on new coor­di­na­tion pat­terns in your mouth so you need prac­tise to devel­op the new pat­terns!

Tips for prac­tis­ing Eng­lish stress, rhythm and into­na­tion

Prac­tise stress­ing the right syl­la­bles in words with more than one syl­la­ble

In a stressed syl­la­ble, the vow­el is said clear­ly.

In an unstressed syl­la­ble, the vow­el is not clear but said as a short /u/ sound – the schwa sound / ə/.

For exam­ple in the word ‘cur­rent­ly’ – the syl­la­ble “rent”, is the weak one. The word should be said ‘cur­rənt­ly’. Or  ‘com­fort­able’ should be said ‘cumftəble’.

You need to active­ly de-stress the vow­els in the unstressed syl­la­bles- you don’t say them as loud­ly, and you don’t use a slight raise in pitch.

Print pages from the Aus­tralian, British or Amer­i­can course and under­line the de- stressed syl­la­bles and prac­tise say­ing the words with cor­rect stress pat­terns.

Prac­tise stress­ing the main mean­ing words in sen­tences and copy the phras­ing ( how the words are grouped togeth­er), when the Eng­lish train­er in our course says them.

Prac­tise link­ing and eli­sion in sen­tences.

Tip 2

Work your vow­el ‘mus­cle’

One of the main things that will make you unclear with your Eng­lish accent,  is if you don’t pro­nounce the vow­els cor­rect­ly. Eng­lish has 22 vow­els, where­as many oth­er lan­guages have less vow­els. This means you need to work on the vow­els in Eng­lish. Take one or two at a time, and prac­tise them till you are using them auto­mat­i­cal­ly in your speech.

As in any lan­guage, there are some­times vow­els that sound very sim­i­lar. Lis­ten to the train­er in our course over and over say­ing  the words with the vow­els you find dif­fi­cult to hear. This way you are devel­op­ing your audi­to­ry abil­i­ty to hear the dif­fer­ence.

When you can ‘hear’ the sound your abil­i­ty to say it cor­rect­ly improves dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

Tip 3

Look up the errors habit­u­al­ly made in Eng­lish by peo­ple who speak the same back­ground lan­guage as you.

Look this up on the net and see what they say to help you know where to start to devel­op your Eng­lish accent. Then, use the prac­tise  mate­r­i­al espe­cial­ly devel­oped for this pur­pose in the speak more clear­ly pro­gram, to work on your Eng­lish accent.

Choose the ones that are going to make the most dif­fer­ence, and work on them first.

Tip 4

Pay atten­tion to aspi­rate your con­so­nants enough for Eng­lish

The unvoiced Eng­lish con­so­nants espe­cial­ly, are not stopped but are said with air at the same time. Learn­ing how to aspi­rate your con­so­nants in Eng­lish makes you sound more like a native speak­er. This aspect of Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion is often not talked about, and it’s an impor­tant one.

Tip 5

If you are still find­ing it dif­fi­cult to know where to start, it might be a good idea to get some pro­fes­sion­al help to have some­one map out what you need to work on so that your prac­tise is more focused and effec­tive, and you don’t waste your effort and time. You will get quick­er  results when you know what to focus on, and what to spend your ener­gy on.

Best wish­es,

Esther

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