So you want to change your accent.
It might sound impossible.
But you can do it.
I've put together some tips to consider when you want to start modifying your accent or learn the General American Accent.
Tip 1: Record Yourself
Record yourself and listen back to the recording. It is difficult to correct yourself if you aren't aware of your own starting point. I recommend recording yourself at the start of the week and then at the end of the week/particular end goal date (e.g. at the end of quarter) to see if you can tell the difference when you are practicing a particular monologue or topic depending on your goal. For example, if you are preparing for your slide presentation, record yourself the first time you practice saying it aloud. Before your presentation, record yourself again to listen to how much you have improved and need to continue to work on. This helps build self-awareness.
Tip 2: Immerse in the Language and People
If you aren't already doing so, immerse yourself in the language. This is especially important if you aren't in an area where the language is widely spoken.
Watch your favorite TV show and listen specifically for the target sound or pattern you are wanting to change. Find friends who speak the language. They can be great models of American English pronunciation. Keep in mind there are regional dialects. Find native English-speaking friends, who are patient and be willing to correct your speech, possibly through a meetup or language exchange.
Tip 3: Pick A Person to Emulate
There is the General American Accent, the specific accent that I teach. There are also regional accents in North America. Think of a person that you would like to emulate or who you consider to be a great speech model.
Is it Steve Jobs? or former President Obama or Bush? Keeping that in mind will help lead the way to how you would like to progress in your journey to a modifying your accent.
Tip 4: Practice Each Day
If you are working on a particular sound/pattern, it takes practice. You need to build that muscle memory of correctly producing a particular sound (e.g., /ae/) and help build stronger self-awareness. It is particularly important to practice up to natural conversation or based on your goal. I recommend just a few minutes of deliberate practice that can range from 5-15 minutes.
Tip 5: Find an Accent Instructor or Speech Coach
Sometimes we need that extra push or expertise of a person who specializes in accent training. Know there are people out there more than willing to help you succeed. Areas can include: pronunciation, rhythm, intonation, vocabulary, and more!
Tip 6: Patience
You are learning something totally new. Big changes are not going to happen overnight. Have the patience to see it through.
Tip 7: Positive mindset
Believe that it is possible that you can change your accent. If you don't believe it is possible, it can be difficult to keep going.
Let me know in the comments how it went. Can you think of any tips that have helped you?
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Hello, my name is Gladdie. I am a Speech Language Pathologist, who teaches accents and provides pronunciation training.