Today we’re going to discuss, in a general but very important way, how to reinvent your English accent.
If you are determined to improve your pronunciation, these tips will help a lot. If you’re not determined to fix your pronunciation, no amount of good strategies and advice will ever help you. Like most worthwhile things in life, you have to really want it. I’ve seen this over and over again: skillful methods + consistent practice + a playful attitude = quick and considerable improvements in pronunciation. Here are some things you should take into account.
Accept That You Are in Control
People tell me over and over again that adult foreign language learners just can’t improve their pronunciation, that you have to travel and live in an English speaking country, learn the International Pronunciation Alphabet (IPA), or that you have to learn a lot of grammar to speak with a smooth accent. There is a limited degree of truth in each of these, but good language learners know that there are obstacles, and that there are many ways of overcoming those obstacles through intelligent strategies and small, consistent doses of practice.
They know that after all is said and done, you’re the only one who is responsible. You must have a method that works for you, believe in it, decide to do it, and make room for these practices in your life. An it´s important to note that pronunciation is its own dimension of language learning that demands a totally different approach that is basically non-existent in traditional language learning systems and institutions.
Pronunciation Lessons on YouTube
You don’t need to travel to the United States or pay a lot of money for an “accent reduction” class. There are plenty of really high quality pronunciation videos on Youtube for free. I use these all the time in my classes. Sound by sound you can master the whole English language.
Rachel’s English is an excellent place to start. Rachel is American, she is clearly an expert in phonetics, and she has made thirty-three very well-done videos, each about 5-7 minutes long, teaching the vast majority of sounds in American English. These videos have very helpful charts, phonetic explanations, slow-motion clips of her mouth as she says them.
Pronunciation Can Be Quickly learned:
It may seem to go against everything you’ve learned, but with skillful practice, pronunciation can be drastically improved in just a matter of days. This will only be temporary, however, when the methods aren’t consistently applied. My advice: apply your practices consistently until they become permanent parts of the language you are learning.
With consistent practice, these methods can significantly bridge the gap between “non-gifted” language learners and the “gifted ones” who tend to have more natural verbal skills. We say that these people are natural language learners, but what is it that makes them fluent so fast? In my observations, these people are naturally good at telling jokes, imitating others, acting, storytelling and entertaining others. Their verbal skills favor the quick and efficient learning of pronunciation.
If you aren’t naturally good at any of these things, this doesn’t mean that you can’t acquire these skills with a little practice, or at least some of them. However, you have to consistently practice and develop your own verbal abilities through focused exercises.
Call to Action: Decide to Do it; Plan to Do it; Just Do it!
“The gap between ignorance and knowledge is much less than the gap between knowledge and action.”
These are effective attitudes and strategies to improve your pronunciation. You need to apply them consistently to be successful.
Now comes the part where I put the responsibility on you. Now you have a clear path forward. To be successful, you need to make time in your life, create habits, and actually do it. This is a process, but if you want to have better pronunciation, you have to take the process in your own hands. You could pay somebody to do this, like a teacher, which might motivate you to actually do it on a regular basis, but at the end of the day, you have to take responsibility for your process.