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.