NRI Tips: A complete guide on accent reduction and English language accent improvement!
Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out their music. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is one of the final segments of a series of articles written on how to lose your accent. This article includes a brief summary of earlier posts, tips based on personal experiments with different approaches and some additional tools on accent softening.
Before we start, it is very important to remember that:
-Our success or failure depends on our commitment. However, it is easier to make a commitment toward a goal, if we know that ‘help’ is around the corner – ‘help’ such as this information.
-Nobody can help us better than ourselves.
With that in mind, the information below is a self-help or a guide on accent softening, accent reduction and how to lose your accent ultimately:
Accent is normal: We all have accent, it is the way we speak; it is the way we used to talk in our neighborhood growing up. It only becomes an accent when we leave our neighborhood and go far away where they speak differently. Even within the same country, the same language is spoken with different slang, and in different style. Have you ever seen a white person in India trying to speak Hindi? Now, that is an accent; it is more than an accent – most of the time it is a slaughterhouse 🙂 ! So don’t feel too bad if someone tell you that you have a ‘thick’ accent. This is normal. You can read more about accent basics in this linked post.
How to lose or soften your accent: The main process and methods are detailed in the post titled ‘How to lose your accent’. It has received some very good reviews all around. Out of all the segments mentioned here, if you have time for only one article, this is the article you should go to. The process of accent softening – as outlined in the linked article – involves following key steps:
a. Break the habit of old speaking ways
c. Practice speech and vocal sounds
e. Be patient
f. Practice speaking in different ways (new local ways, local slang, local style…)
g. Make it a fun routine, a new habit
h. Minimize mixing of mother-tongue and English vocabulary, such as Hinglish of India
i. And, practice more
j. Seek help if things are not working out
How long should it take? : How long does it take to lose your accent? That totally depends on you, how much you practice and how easily you can adapt to new speech. Many say that we can lose our accent in a few months if we are conscious about it and trying proactively. With the steps and routines listed in the main post, you should start to see a difference within a few weeks. And, in less than a year, you may significantly reduce your accent. If you are in a hurry or if the stakes are high (e.g., your job or promotion depends on it), you can also consider professional help to speed things up.
Make it fun, not a burden: Going back to the starting point, everybody has an accent. We are supposed to, don’t make a big deal about it. Just make it a part of your daily routines to practice local accent; the results will follow. Keep trying and practice as much as possible.
Help is easy to find:When you are really looking, you can always find help. Be resourceful. If the information here is not enough, you can always look elsewhere. To start with:
– Search online for exact issue or weakness that you are trying to improve, e.g. pronunciation, accent reduction, vowel sounds…and so on. There are all kinds resources that you can find.
– Go to your local library, search local business directory or local advertisements. There may be some local schools or businesses that provide one-on-one classes, seminars or group training on accent reduction.
Some of the useful resources include:
Free online help:There are all kinds of online advertisements and resources advocating accent softening and accent reduction. While many of these are advertisements, some are quite useful. There is no way one can evaluate all of these online resources; after a while, they all start to sound the same. However, here are some with useful tips and tricks:
a. Margo’s Magical Letter Page: To-the- point; but very helpful information.
b. Accent Master: The sites has some good information about accent and voice training.
c. howjsay.com: Very interesting site. When in doubt about a word’s pronunciation, go to this site and type it in, you can hear the exact audio pronunciation.
Other tools and professional help:There are many books, CDs and online courses offered on this subject. Some are listed here. You can find tons more if you look for them, online or in your local area. Make sure to check the qualifications of the instructors, especially if you are going to pay for it. 🙂
a. Lose your accent in 28 days: It consists of an audio CD and a booklet. Very brief chapters are divided into different pronunciations, styles and ways of speech delivery. The whole thing takes only a few hours to listen to. Perhaps, you have to listen and practice it everyday again and again for 28 days! While it is helpful, it may not really deliver the promise- losing the accent completely in 28 days.
b. Accentuate Communication: A helpful site with live and web-cam classes.
c. Pronunciation Patterns : This is an interesting and seemingly useful site with lots of information.
d. American Accent Training : Another resource to help you to train in American accent.
Breaking the habit: The way we speak is a habit. An in-depth article linked here -how to break a habit– has many helpful tips on breaking a routine.
Share your learning: Share your thoughts, ideas and personal experiences. If you find something helpful, comments below with your own tips and tricks :).
Thanks for your time and happy elocution! 🙂