accent reduction

How long will it take to reduce my accent in Eng­lish?

How long will it take to reduce my accent in Eng­lish?

This is the mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion!

First­ly, you need to know that dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties to retain the accent they hear, and repro­duce it for them­selves. This is the same for people’s abil­i­ty to mim­ic how a native Eng­lish speak­er is pro­nounc­ing Eng­lish. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple need dif­fer­ing amounts of time for effec­tive accent reduc­tion.

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing though, most peo­ple report notic­ing a dif­fer­ence in their Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion after 3-4 weeks dai­ly prac­tise. After 6 months prac­tise, there is a huge dif­fer­ence in their speech clar­i­ty and accent reduc­tion. They speak with more of the Eng­lish accent they want to have. As you can under­stand it takes at least a cou­ple of years work to ful­ly gain a new /native accent in Eng­lish.

Some accent reduc­tion pit­falls peo­ple fall into:

– Peo­ple expect to have changed their Eng­lish accent com­plete­ly in a cou­ple of months

– Peo­ple prac­tise a par­tic­u­lar sound or speech ele­ment, but don’t real­ly mim­ic prop­er­ly and are just using the same way of mov­ing their mouth as before. If your mouth doesn’t feel like it’s mov­ing dif­fer­ent­ly then you are just doing the same as before.

– Peo­ple don’t con­sol­i­date the par­tic­u­lar accent reduc­tion ele­ment they are work­ing on to make it auto­mat­ic in their every­day speech, before start­ing to work on anoth­er pro­nun­ci­a­tion ele­ment.

– Peo­ple don’t record them­selves first before prac­tis­ing. Then as they reduce their accent, they for­get how they sound­ed orig­i­nal­ly, and don’t think they have made progress.

– Or, peo­ple do record them­selves. Then they work on a sound or Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion ele­ment, and then record them­selves again. But, instead of just lis­ten­ing for the ele­ment they have been prac­tis­ing, they lis­ten to their whole accent in Eng­lish and don’t think they have made progress.

– Peo­ple don’t real­ly attune their ear, and pay spe­cif­ic atten­tion to how native speak­ers are say­ing a par­tic­u­lar speech ele­ment. Instead they try to lis­ten to the whole accent and copy the whole thing at once.

– You need to decide on some­thing to work on, and then lis­ten for that when native speak­ers use it, and notice how they use it. For exam­ple, you might be work­ing on pro­nounc­ing a par­tic­u­lar vow­el in Eng­lish. Lis­ten for that, and mim­ic that till you can pro­nounce it prop­er­ly all the time.

– Peo­ple don’t realise that each Eng­lish speech ele­ment they con­sol­i­date into their speech accu­mu­lates to make them clear­er and clear­er and to reduce their accent.

– Peo­ple go through the speak more clear­ly course a few times with­out con­sol­i­dat­ing any­thing into their every­day speech, and then won­der why they haven’t reduced their accent.

– Peo­ple don’t realise they need to start with a speech ele­ment they know they can’t say, or don’t have in their native lan­guage and work on that first. This will already make you much clear­er. For exam­ple, if you don’t have a ‘th’ in your lan­guage and know you can’t say it well, then start with that.

– Most peo­ple don’t realise that what­ev­er lan­guage back­ground they come from, for effec­tive accent reduc­tion they need to work on acquir­ing all the Eng­lish vow­els.

– Peo­ple don’t realise that some accent reduc­tion prac­tise work is eas­i­er and quick­er to con­sol­i­date into speech, and some speech ele­ments like Eng­lish rhythm and stress and into­na­tion take longer to make auto­mat­ic in speech. Often, they give up too ear­ly, and don’t give their ear and mouth enough prac­tise to acquire the hard­er ele­ments of Eng­lish.

I hope this has helped you not fall into some of these accent reduc­tion pit­falls.

Best wish­es,


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