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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.