6 Ways To Change Your English Accent
Are you frustrated because people often misunderstand you when you speak English? Do you want to improve your English accent and speak clearly?
Let’s do it!
Often, my English students want to “fix their accent” – which suggests there is something wrong with having one! The problem is not that you have an accent, the problem is that your accent is strong and it makes it difficult for you to communicate clearly and easily. Training your English accent to be clearer and more natural when you speak is important for confidence and clear communication! ⚡️
So in this lesson, I’m sharing 6 ways to improve your English accent so that you can speak English confidently and more English speakers can understand you!
Oh hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish. If you’re a regular mmmEnglish student you know that I don’t prioritise perfection. I’m more focused on building confidence and self-belief and regular English practice.
So when it comes to your accent, let’s focus on clear communication, not the perfect English accent but clear communication that makes it easy to understand you, to help you feel more confident when you’re speaking to others and to fit in.
So if reducing your accent and speaking clearly is something that you’re interested in doing, then stick around because I’ve got six tips to help you do that.
One of the coolest things about accents is that there are and one of the best ways that you can meet English speakers with different accents from all around the world is to be part of an online language school like Lingoda.
And with the next Lingoda Language Sprint right around the corner, well not only is this a great opportunity for you to improve your speaking and your listening skills in just three months but Lingoda are also offering a chance to get a one hundred per cent refund as well.
Now if you haven’t heard me talk about it before, the Lingoda Language Sprint is a challenge. Lingoda are inspiring their students to level up their knowledge, their speaking skills and their grammar awareness in just ninety days.
Now I participated in the Sprint when it was called a marathon last year and it was one of the best things that I ever did. I was taking Spanish classes.
So there are two ways to join. You’ve got the choice to sign up for the Super Sprint which is thirty classes a month for three months and if you complete the Super Sprint, you’re going to get a one hundred per cent refund.
But alternatively, you can also join the Regular Sprint, which is just fifteen classes a month for three months. Now if you complete that you’re gonna get a fifty per cent refund.
To find out more about how the Sprint works then check out this video that I made up here. I’m also going to talk about if it’s really possible to get that refund.
So to join the next Sprint, make sure you use the link in the description below. Sign up by June 15th, pay the deposit, secure your spot. Plus if you use that code down there, you’ll get a ten euro discount off your deposit. Good luck!
So what’s so bad about an accent? Absolutely nothing.
If you can communicate your message clearly, then there is no reason to change it. Your accent helps to create character and intrigue and you know it helps to tell your story. However, if your accent is a barrier to someone understanding you or it stops you from creating a meaningful connection with someone well, we’ve got a problem right?
So reducing or limiting your accent is probably going to help you to feel more successful during conversations and to help you to get more confidence and to speak more which is important. That’s the most important thing.
So to help you to improve your accent and speak more clearly, I’ve got some tips that I’m sharing with you right now.
1. Choose your accent
The first one is to choose your accent. Now usually my advice is to listen to as many different English speakers as you can, both native and non-native English speakers. This is essential to help you develop really strong listening and comprehension skills.
However, when it comes to changing your accent and practising your pronunciation, with this type of practice you know, it’s better to choose a specific accent to focus on so that you can really pick out the most unique features of that accent and try and copy them.
And the simplest way to do this is to choose an English speaker who you like the sound of when they speak, you like listening to.
So find out where their accent is from and learn some of the key features of that particular English accent.
So if you want to learn an Australian accent like mine, then you would focus on pronunciation features like the flap T sound, you know when a T is between two vowels and it ends up sounding more like a D like in water, bottle, little.
You might also look at schwa endings, you know in words that end in -ER but the sound is not pronounced like mother and weather.
And also I just want to take a moment to say that in no way does this have to be a native English speaker who you’re copying. If there’s someone who you admire who’s a native of your first language but when they speak English, they speak clearly and confidently, by all means copy their English accents.
The reason why it’s important to choose one English accent to focus on is so that you can get the repetition that you need you know, to keep hearing those sounds again, to emulate them and to copy them and produce those sounds yourself.
So ideally you’ll find someone or even a couple of people with a similar accent that you have regular access to, a regular access to their voice you know. Maybe they have a podcast, maybe they have a YouTube channel.
Whatever it is, as long as they’ve got lots of content and that it’s interesting content that you like listening to, you may as well make your pronunciation practice enjoyable right?
If you’re still wondering how to choose the right English the one that’s right for you, well think about your personality, you know, are you quite serious and quite professional? Or do you want to sound really cool and chilled out and approachable?
All of these things influence the accent that’s right for you but also the people that you are listening to and that you are trying to copy right?
So I’m curious, which English accent do you like the most?
Which one would you most like to use yourself or which English speaker would you most like to sound like? Is there someone who you listen to regularly or you know someone that you watch on YouTube that you would like to sound like? Let me know in the comments.
2. Watch and listen (as much as you can!)
So you want to watch and listen to that accent as much as you can. Like I said, find a person that you admire, that you’ve got lots of access to so that you can copy them.
It’s just like you learnt your own accent from your parents. If you surround yourself with regular sounds, you will naturally start to use them yourself when you speak in English.
I taught kids when I was in Vietnam and some of them could bust out the most amazing American accent and slang words amazing American accent and slang words and expressions all because they spent so much time watching cartoons and movies with American accents in them.
This is exactly the same concept.
Another really great option is listening to audiobooks which are read by an author who has an accent that you like.
So Stephen Fry is awesome for received pronunciation, for sort of formal British pronunciation. I’m listening to Michelle Obama read her book Becoming on Audible at the moment and that’s also a lovely accent to emulate. Trevor Noah is also a good one if you quite like jokes and humour.
So I’ve added links to books narrated by those people in the description below. You can listen to the samples of audiobooks on Audible. Find an accent that you like and grab that book for free.
It’s a really great resource for finding the accent that you want to copy yourself. So the idea is you watch and you listen to as much of that person as you can or that accent as you can.
And the great thing is you’re going to be learning new words, new slang, humour.
All of this is really, really helpful, right?
But you’ll also be training your brain to recognise and associate those sounds with words as you hear them so that you can start using them yourself as you speak.
3. Practise imitation
Up next, of course, it’s practise imitation. So English has a rhythm right it follows a stress and tonal patterns that are probably quite different to those used in your native language and this can have a huge impact on your communication in English.
If you’re speaking English and you’re applying the stress and the rhythm from your native language, it can be pretty distracting for other English speakers who are trying to listen to you.
So softening that a little is a really, really good idea and this relates to syllable stress in individual words, it relates to sentence stress, to tone, to pause.
So becoming familiar with all of these things by imitating a native speaker as they speak, it’s going to help you to learn and understand and experience the rhythm of English and help you to use it more yourself.
And if there are words that you use in your native And if there are words that you use in your native language that are also used in English as well, then pay close attention to the English pronunciation of those words because it’s probably a little different to what you’re used to you know.
Words like burger or other foods especially. Words with common endings like action or community, countries and city names you know, they can be pretty similar between languages but it would be a good idea to practise the correct English pronunciation especially names that you are using often yourself right?
4. Say everything out loud
The more that you actually say, the better because you can read about English pronunciation, you can listen to English speakers as much as you like.
I mean you can listen to me talking in this video as much as you like but if you can’t get the muscles in your mouth moving and working in the way that you need them to. It’s pointless you know and you don’t even need someone to speak with to do this, you can do it yourself, you can talk to yourself in the mirror and the shower.
It literally doesn’t matter but if you build a habit around moving and working those muscles, it’s gonna have an impact. The more that you practise saying English words, the better.
So reading out loud is a really good daily practice, singing songs is awesome as well. Simply just getting your mouth muscles moving and comfortable and doing all of the things that they need to do to make English sounds correctly, right?
Just do it as much as you can. And as a hint, just make sure that you’re going back to that podcast or back to that YouTube channel or that audiobook re-listening to the accent so that you can make your own adjustments to your pronunciation if you need to.
5. Take every opportunity to talk
Right my fifth tip is to take every opportunity that you have to talk, you know, you don’t improve your accent by thinking about it.
So what opportunities do you have to actually put it into practice in real live situations?
If you go ahead with the Lingoda Sprint, then you’re going to be getting regular speaking practice every day.
But what other opportunities do you have? Take them. Use them to practise. And I say this especially if you are shy and you’re uncomfortable about speaking in English, you know maybe you hesitate before you speak and sometimes you miss those opportunities.
So try and speak up, take every opportunity that comes your way.
Don’t just go to class, you know, ask questions, be the first person to put up your hand and answer. Don’t sit in silence. Students who take those opportunities to improve are going to do it the fastest right?
So try to put your fears and your worries and your doubts aside and speak.
Get into the habit of practising.
6. Record yourself (and listen critically)
And lastly, record yourself and listen critically.
I’ve talked about the importance of choosing a single accent that you would like and to listen to it and then to take every opportunity to speak out loud either yourself or when you’re talking to people, get those muscles working and practise speaking.
But how do you know if you’re actually improving or how do you know if your accent is changing? Or how can you tell what you need to improve or get better at? You record yourself.
Now it’s possibly one of the most awkward, uncomfortable things that you’ll ever have to do. Listen to yourself speaking in a second language on a recording.
Never mind I promise you, you’ll get over it and improving your accent is way more important.
Now remember way back in step number one, I talked about paying attention to the unique features of the accent that you want to use. Well can you hear those features in your own recording?
If you compare the recording to the accent that you’re trying to copy, what sounds different? You know and what do you need to change to make it sound more natural or more like that accent?
Changing your accent is not something that you can do overnight. Alright it takes practice and it takes repetition. So making it part of your daily practice, ten or fifteen minutes a day is going to produce some significant results if you create that habit and you do it for six months or for a year.
In fact, keep a recording of you now at the start of this journey and then record again at six months and twelve months and track the progress that you’re making.
Track the change over time, you know, it’s something that you’ve got to commit to just a little bit every day over time and I promise you that if you get to the end of that period of time and you compare a recording to one that you took twelve months earlier, you’ll be blown away by the progress that you’ve made.
You won’t notice this change from one day to the next but you’re definitely going to surprise yourself if you compare that recording to one that you took a year earlier.
So my friend that is it for today, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this lesson.
Now you’ve probably been practising with one of my imitation lessons before. They are a really great way to practise my pronunciation and natural expression but it’s also going to teach you a method that you can use if you want to imitate and copy someone else.
Links mentioned in the video
Can You Pronounce These Common English Contractions?
How to pronounce GIRL & WORLD
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