There are hundreds of varieties of accents found all over the world. Some accents are easily distinguishable from others, while accents from areas close to each other may only vary slightly in their differences. Each area and culture has its own unique tone, rhythm, and timing.
There is a multitude of reasons why people from all over the globe learn to diminish their natural accents for a more native-sounding accent. Whether your reason for learning how to lose your accent is professional or personal, it is possible. With our 10 steps for learning how to lose your accent below and some hard work, you’ll be on your way to the accent of your dreams in no time.
How to Lose Your Accent in 10 Easy Steps
1. Figure Out the “Why”
People wish to change or eliminate their accent for a variety of reasons, but it is essential to figure out what your reason is before getting started. The goal of eliminating your accent will help determine the road you take to get there, and what is most important to your learning process. Professional reasons usually require a more disciplined approach, while personal reasons can allow for a more casual experience.
For example, actors and actresses may wish to learn how to get rid of their accent or even add a new one, to broaden their professional capabilities. Other people may feel as though their accent hinders their professional or personal life, so they wish to “sound” more native for an easier lifestyle.
2. Learn the Native Language Well
Accents are not just about the tone and sound of your voice, but also how you pronounce things. If you are a foreign speaker and are wishing to adopt a more-native accent, you should first familiarize yourself the best you can with the language. Be sure you are pronouncing words, phrases, and expressions correctly.
Sometimes natives are not quick to correct inaccuracies, so it is important to do your research and learn how to speak using the language and grammar properly. Part of eliminating your accent is familiarizing yourself with the way the native language sounds. For instance, you could listen to the radio or read easy children’s books to help you understand the way the language is spoken.
3. Practice Your Pronunciation
This mirrors the prior step, since speaking the language properly is a key in how to lose your accent. Many languages around the world are phonetic; meaning that they are pronounced exactly the way they are written. Other languages, like English, are not, and so pronunciations of vowels and consonants is different between cultures. Some sounds in certain cultures do not even have an equal sound in another language, so practice is key.
It takes time to learn all of the different pronunciations in a particular language when you are learning how to lose your accent. You may find that some sounds are more difficult than others, and some pronunciations may take more time. When you are working on eliminating your accent, you should try various exercises that work for you.
You may have to change how you pronounce certain consonants, making them longer or moving your tongue to a different position in your mouth etc.
Remember to take your time and practice, practice, practice.
4. Start Slow
You should take your time in learning how to annunciate each sound or sound-combination. Only focus on one or two sounds at once and master each one before moving onto the next. Look at your mouth in the mirror as you speak each sound, as it will help you determine if the proper sound is being made. Moving on to different sounds before mastering the ones before will only ensure you are not annunciating correctly.
As stated before, some sounds may be harder for you than others. It is important to remember that each sound will take time, as you are retraining your mouth and brain to work and sound differently. You will have to practice these exercises daily, and always remember to insert them into your daily conversations, because the more you say the proper sounds, the more natural they become.
5. Practice Your Rhythm
Pronunciation means nothing if your phrases and sentences still sound off. While pronunciation is how you say sounds or words, rhythm is about the timing of these sounds or words within a sentence. Simply put, each language places stress (either strong or weak) in sentences on certain words and sounds. If you are putting the stress of these phrases in the wrong place, it can be easily picked-up when compared to a native accent.
The best way to understand the rhythm and timing of sentences and phrases is to simply listen to the native language. Repeat sentences over and over again, putting the emphasis in the right place. To get rid of your accent, your rhythm must match a native’s, or it will be easily picked out. Listening to the radio or watching tv is a great way to learn a language’s rhythm.
6. Ask for Help
Do not feel ashamed to ask for help or seek it out. Many people who are close to foreign-language speakers may not want to correct you or point on wrong pronunciations because they do not want to hurt your feelings. If you are practicing how to lose your accent, you’ll want your friends and family to know that you wish to be corrected.
You should assure your friends and family that correcting you is necessary if you want to eliminate that accent. If you do not know what you are saying wrong, you will never know to fix it. In addition, do not feel embarrassed to seek out help from educational sources like schools or online courses, or even from a dialect coach. Dialect coaches are professionally trained to help you slowly eliminate your accent.
7. Read Out Loud
Alongside listening to the radio or watching tv, you should practice by reading out loud to yourself or others. It is much easier to pick out imperfections in pronunciation and rhythm when you say them out loud. It is also easier to understand the stress and timing of certain phrases and sentences when you can read them in print and understand the fundamentals of the language.
Try spending time every day reading out loud. Start off with an easy book and work your way up as you get better. Sound out each word and sound slowly, until you master how it should sound. You can also try reading in front of the mirror, to carefully mimic the right oral movements. Have some patience with yourself and remember: repetition is the key.
8. Record Yourself
The way we sound always sounds different to ourselves than we do to others. The tones and sounds of your voice could sound completely different when they are spoken out loud, and that is of no fault of your own. For instance, you may have natural voice qualities that make you sound more nasally, guttural, or raspy.
Whenever you are practicing to eliminate your accent, you could try recording yourself. When you hear yourself practicing, it is easier to pinpoint specific areas that you need to work on. Comparing your recordings to recordings of the accent you are trying to master is also a sure-fire way to make learning how to lose your accent easier.
9. Put in the Time
You should remember that learning how to get rid of your accent does not get rid of whatever culture or heritage you originate from. In fact, many people would argue that it is not possible to actually get rid of your accent. Rather, you learn how to control your accent and through repetition, it becomes a part of your daily lifestyle.
Learning how to lose your accent will take a lot of repetition, practice, and time. Do not expect results over-night. Controlling your accent and minimizing it can take “years of interaction with native” practices. It may be months before you start to notice genuine results in your daily routine.
10. Learn the Culture
Even if you are not from a different country and are from a different region within the same country, each area or culture has its own variety of language. Certain regions may use certain slang words, say phrases a particular way, or have nicknames for various items. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the native culture, so as you practice how to lose your accent, your everyday conversation matches the right accent.
Americans, for instance, use a slew of slang words and expressions in different areas to describe people, food, and feelings. Certain words in Spain are different or do not exist in Mexico, even though both countries speak Spanish; as another example. Familiarizing yourself with the attitude, differences, and small intricacies of the accent you are trying to adopt will help you quickly transition while you learn how to lose your accent.
Putting in the practice and working towards eliminating your accent will be easier than ever with the steps we have provided above. Try these steps out for yourself and let us know what you think. Have you been successful in losing your accent? What did you do to learn how to lose your accent?
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