Accent Reduction For Professionals (2015)
Chapter 8: Putting it All Together
For some individuals the idea or reducing or eliminating their accent appears like an insurmountable hurdle. Just when you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you encounter a person who’s been speaking it as their second language longer than you’ve been alive. The person is still speaking with an accent. What gives?
If they haven’t eliminated their accent by now, how could you ever hope to? First, stop thinking like this. You can and will reduce your accent as long as continue to pursue this goal. Of course, there are some more effective ways and not-so-effective ways. This chapter lists some of the most efficient methods of putting everything you’ve learned up to this point and literally “putting it all together.”
- Watch television shows
When I talk to individuals how have successfully shed their accent, they confess that watching TV played a major role. Wow! I thought that impressive. I had never really thought as this being a viable option until a variety of people, with different first languages, kept telling me how much watching television helped them.
Why would that be so?
First, watching television is a safe way of studying what the English language is all about. Not only do you get to hear how it’s spoken naturally, but you can also sample the idioms used within a safe environment. If you don’t understand a phrase or a word you can either literally write it down later to discover the meaning or ask someone later.
Secondly, you’ll develop an ear for the nuanced accent of the speaker and how you may then repeat it. If you can, watch television shows already pre-recorded on DVDs, so you can listen to them time and again and immerse yourself in the language and especially the accent.
- National Public Radio as a Model
Perhaps there is no better model for perfecting the pronunciation of the English language that National Public Radio better known NPR. Even native-speaking English speakers are in awe of the powers of speech the typical host and reporter has.
This technique is highly recommended if you’re either in your beginning stages or for individuals, like yourself, who are already advanced students trying to speak with less of an accent in order to be better accepted at work or within your study group.
If you’ve never heard of it before, the concept is simple. While you’re listening to someone or something, like a television show or a National Public Radio broadcast, try to repeat – technically to shadow – what you’ve just heard. Do this as quickly as you can. By this, I mean to repeat it sentence by sentence. It doesn’t matter if you repeat the entire story. The goal is to pick a sentence, repeat it. Then as soon as you have done that, repeat the next sentence you hear. t is one of the most beneficial ways to learn.
The only addition to this technique is to be walking swiftly while you’re doing this. I wish I could answer why the walking and talking – when taken together work so well, but I can’t. Many experts believe it may have some relation to receiving more oxygenation helps you to learn.
As a professional attempting to boost his ability to sound like a native speaker, you’re probably ready just to jump in at the advanced shadowing. You can shadow an audio recording of a book or even a news talk show while you walk. If you’re reading – and you’re careful – consider walking and reading. This is problematic at times. But if he stay in your home and walk from room to room where you’re comfortable maneuvering, it works nicely.
Those who have used shadowing as a method of acquiring a more American accent when speaking English, say that while it’s effective, it’s also a tedious, difficult method to accomplish.
I tell you this not to discourage you, but to warn you. The individual described shadowing as a “boring, grueling technique.” He also said it was “about as much fun and as much work as weightlifting.
However painstaking this technique may be, he did offer this one bit of advice. Only perform shadowing one sentence at a time. Listen to the sentence; repeat the sentence. Listen to the sentence; repeat the sentence.
After all these caveats, he did admit that he didn’t “know of any other effective way to reduce an accent with home study.”
Keep in mind that reducing your accent may not always be easy, but if you remember all the reasons you’re doing it – which may very well include a promotion or advancement in your career, you’ll then realize the effort you exert is well worth.
- What about Podcasts and YouTube?
There are primarily two ways you can put podcasts and YouTube to work for you in reducing your accent. The first is straightforward. Search the internet for podcasts and YouTube videos created specifically to give you advice on the topic. There are several good varieties. As you search, you’ll discover the one that perfectly fits your needs.
The second method and is one frequently overlooked. Listen to a podcast or a YouTube video on a subject you enjoy. In this way, the subject matter will be able to keep your interest. Use these as a form of role modeling. Listen to them not only for content, but to immerse yourself in the English language. Imitate the way the native English-speaking participants talk.
Adopting a Role Model
This probably seems too simple to work. Many individuals have tried it and say that it works much better than they thought it would. This technique is just as it says. Select an individual who speaks English the way you would ideally like to. Be sure when you’re searching for this “role model” that you select an individual you can trust.
Part of this exercise is that you’re going to ask him or her to correct your English when he notices your accent getting heavier. Ask him if he’ll work with you. Sometimes this means stopping an entire conversation and spending a few moments just working on a phrase or a word.
Your responsibility is to follow his instructions. Now you can see why you need to select an individual you can trust. Don’t take offense when he corrects you, keeping in mind he’s doing exactly what you asked of him.
The following chapter is all about reverse accent mimicry. This method, which is remarkably similar to the ones we’ve talked about in this chapter, actually takes the suggestions one step further.
To discover how more than one person has successfully reduced his accent using this remarkable imaginative method, all you need to do is to continue on to the next chapter.