How to Lose Your Accent

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Having an accent is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but there are several reasons you may want to work on losing it. For example, you could be working on a performance in a non-native language or trying to be more easily understood. Keep in mind that losing an accent will take a lot of practice and time, so be patient during the process. Eventually, you will achieve the result you desire!

Method 1. Practicing on Your Own

1. Practice getting rid of your accent at least five days a week. 

Practice makes perfect is a common saying for a reason. You will not lose your accent unless you consciously work on doing so. Take some time out of your day five days a week to work on the accent you desire to have. You should practice at least 15 minutes, but 30 minutes to an hour is ideal.

Use your practice time wisely. Choose a specific thing you want to work on every time you practice. For example, use one day to work on rhythm.

2. Speak slowly.

Even native speakers are easier to understand when they speak slowly. Do not try to speak at what is considered at a “normal” pace for natives when you are working on your accent. Speak slowly and enunciate. Finish one word and pause before you start the next.

You can practice speaking slowly to your partner, a friend, family member, or even to yourself if you're nervous about speaking very slowly when out and about in daily life.

3. Practice your rhythm. Rhythm is about timing within a phrase or sentence. 

This mainly equates to where we place the strong or weak stress in a sentence. When learning a new accent, it is also important to learn where the stress is placed. Listen to native speakers to get an idea of the rhythm of the accent you're trying to accomplish.

If you're working on English, practice where the stresses are in a sentence. For example, “That's the best thing you could've done.” Say that sentence and put the emphasis on the word “best.”

4. Read out loud. 

Spend some time each day reading out loud in the language you're working on. Sound out each word slowly and carefully as you read. You could read the newspaper, a book, or a comic. Read whatever you like so the experience is enjoyable and productive. Saying the words in front of you out loud will help you pick up on rhythm and work on pronunciation.

5. Record yourself. 

Choose a short speech or passage from a book. If possible, choose something that you can listen to first in the accent you're trying to accomplish. Turn on a recording device, like your smartphone, and say the passage out loud. Then, play it back to yourself when you're finished. Note what you need to work on to reduce your accent.

6. Stress the correct syllables.

Different languages emphasize different parts of the word. Many languages are syllable-timed, which means that every word in the sentence is the same length. English usually stresses the important words in the sentence. Learn what part of the word the language you're working on stresses when working on losing your accent.

7. Watch television and listen to the radio. 

When learning any accent, listening to and imitating a native speaker is the most important step and fastest way to learn. Spend some time each day watching a T.V. show, listening to the radio, listening to music, or listening to an audiobook in the language and accent you want to imitate. If possible, listen to a few sentences, pause it, and then repeat those sentences.

Method 2. Learning from Others

1. Listen to a native speaker in person. 

Talk with a friend that is native in the language you're working on, go listen to a speech, or listen to a teacher give a lecture. This way, you will hear the speaker live and hear how their voice sounds fairly unrehearsed. Listen carefully to how they pace themselves and any words that are specific to the accent they are using.

2. Get involved with the local community.

A great and inexpensive way to work on losing your accent is to get involved with a community of native speakers. You could get involved with a club (like a book club), church, or group for whatever interests you. This will allow you to practice your accent and provide you with people that can gently correct you when you make a mistake.

You may feel shy about talking at first, but remember that kind people will only want to help you.

3. Join a group of other non-native speakers. 

You should spend most of your time practicing with native speakers, but it would also help to practice with people that you feel comfortable talking with. It will especially help you if you are shy when talking to native speakers because talking to non-native speakers will help you gain confidence.

4. Ask to be corrected when you mispronounce something. 

When talking to a native speaker or someone who has successfully lost their accent, ask if they wouldn't mind correcting you when you make a mistake. Not being allowed to continue making the same mistake will help you correct yourself faster. The person should correct you in a polite and constructive way rather than being rude when they correct you. 

5. Watch YouTube videos about pronunciation. 

There are videos on YouTube dedicated to helping you learn just about any language you can imagine. Look up lessons for whatever language you're working on. Specifically, look for videos that focus on pronunciation.

You can often tell that a channel is helpful if they have a lot of subscribers and put out content regularly.

6. Focus on the accent you want to imitate.

It's great to listen to the language in general, but try to focus on the exact accent you want to achieve. For example, if you want to mask your accent and take on a southern accent, listen to a reality T.V. show made in the southern United States. Or, if you want to work on a Parisian French accent, watch a Parisian talk show.

Posted by Oxford Language Club

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