There are many tips that can help in accent reduction, though one main feature of reducing an accent or speaking more clearly in English, is often overlooked.
Students don’t always want to do this or pay attention to it, because it takes effort. Sometimes, if it’s a sound or accent reduction element that is new to them, they don’t want to take the time to master it.
To change the way we say something, it is important to be able to hear it, or feel it, or both.
Often as I work with students in skype coaching lessons, I ask the student, “Can you feel how different that feels to the way you were moving your mouth before?” While you are practising you need to notice this, and ‘feel’ if you are moving your mouth differently. If you aren’t, then chances are you’re just making the sounds or rhythm, or stress patterns exactly the same way as before.
It does take an effort to move your mouth differently, and do this consistently until you have created new muscle memory in your mouth for your accent reduction work and clear speech in English.
Accent Reduction Tip
Old way/ New way technique
This accent reduction technique is useful for whatever you are working on mastering with your English pronunciation and accent reduction. It’s especially useful to use when you are mastering consonants or vowels in English that aren’t in your native language.
Let’s say you are trying to learn the diphthong (vowel made up of 2 vowel sounds said together), ‘ay’/eɪ/, and you usually say just ‘e’ /ɛ/instead.
For instance you say ‘sem’ for same /seɪm/. That is, you leave the second part of the vowel out. You don’t say the ‘i’ – and don’t make your mouth into the smile position sound after the ‘e’, but cut the vowel short. You can use the old way/new way technique to help your mouth feel the difference, and so get used to moving differently.
It works like this:
-Go to the word list on the ‘ay’ practise page in our accent training course, or make up a list of ‘ay’ words.
-Then say each word the old way (your usual way), and then listen to the trainer and copy them saying it the new way. You also have a detailed description there to tell you how to move your mouth.
You have to do something different with your mouth the second time otherwise you will say the same thing twice!
-You may need to do this several times using the same word list till your ‘ear’ and mouth get used to the new way your mouth parts have to move.
-Then, just say it the new way.
-Next, practise using the ‘new’ way in the words in the sentences on the practise page.
For example if you say the ‘e’ instead of the ‘ay’ diphthong you would say:
sem (old way) then say same (/seɪm/– new way making sure you say both parts of the vowel before you say the /m/)
ren – then say rain
let -then say late
tren -then say train
penful -and then say painful
You can also use the same accent reduction technique for stress and rhythm and intonation. You could say the sentence your usual way and then actively listen to the trainer in our course say the sentence, and mimic the new way. Even though you are saying a few words together in a sentence, your jaw rhythm and intonation etc should feel different to the usual way your mouth feels and moves- maybe less staccato, smoother and more flowing.
So there is my accent reduction tip you may not want to do,But It Works.
Best wishes, Esther