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?
Accent training sessions...
So you are considering taking some sessions to take your speaking skills to the next level.
You want to finally feel like you can order at a coffee shop without someone asking you to repeat yourself for the 5th time.
You feel empowered to find someone who can truly help you reach your goals.
Once you have decided to make that next step, below are some tips that can help you get the most out of your accent training sessions.
Know Your Why
Why did you choose to seek out assistance and expertise from an accent/speech coach or instructor? Knowing your why will not only help your coach to personalize your sessions but also help you to keep showing up. It enables your coach to truly personalize and help you achieve your personal goals. If you know why you are there, your coach can change session content that was originally planned. If you know that you want to be able to speak more clearly and professionally during team meetings at work, bring your presentation slides to your session. If you have a script you need to use for an upcoming audition, bring it with you. That is what personalized sessions are all about.
Be an active participant
When you are in session, be present throughout the session. Know what you are learning and why you are learning it that day.
Listen...Listen to the different aspects of your coach's overall words, pronunciation, and rhythm. Listen to what your instructor keeps asking you to correct.
Make a commitment to put in the practice each and every day. Every little bit helps. Your daily habits to commit to complete weekly practice provided by your coach/instructor is the foundation to seeing the change overtime. Commit to signing up for sessions and showing up each week. It takes time to see change, luckily, there is a time after 10-12 weeks of private sessions that you can see considerable change and progress with consistency.
Can you think of anything else that you have found that has helped you make the most of your sessions?