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  • 8 Tips to get rid of a Thick Accent

    When learning a new language, it’s common to speak it in an accented manner that closely resembles your own native language. That’s because different languages have different ways of combining letters to create sounds, different ways of emphasizing certain syllables or words in sentences, and different speaking speeds. You’re used to the norms in your native tongue, so while you may be learning English words, it takes extra attention and work to learn a new mode of speaking. Fortunately, there are several ways you can modify your new English speech to get rid of a thick accent and speak more clearly:

    Listen to a range of people

    English accents vary widely depending on region, but some things remain the same no matter where you re. By exposing yourself to a multitude of English accents, you’ll be able to determine what the commonalities are. For example, an e at the end of a word is always silent (unpronounced) when there is another vowel in the word (for example: pie, cake, line).

    Imitate people you want to sound like

    Once you’ve exposed yourself to a number of English accents, choose one you’d like to emulate and listen to that person speak as much as you can. A newscaster or TV presenter is a good choice because you can listen to them nearly every day. Repeat after them, mimicking their pronunciation and cadence (the rise and fall of the voice and the rhythm of the words) as closely as you can. It may feel silly but it’s truly a wonderful way to learn.

    Sing songs

    Singing and remembering lyrics use a different part of the brain than speaking does, so singing along to English songs and mimicking the enunciation of the performer can help build new connections in the brain and make you feel more comfortable pronouncing words in English.

    Singing English songs is a great way to get rid of a thick accented improve pronunciation. If you can sing it, you can say it!

    Focus on consonants

    Consonant sounds are very important to speaking a language clearly. Many new English speakers may struggle with particular consonant sounds if those letters are pronounced or enunciated differently in their native language. For example, some Spanish speakers pronounce a c at the beginning of a word as a “th” sound, but this is never the case in English (it will be either an s or a k sound). Others have trouble with the letters v and w, pronouncing one like the other and vice versa. Similar issues arise with r and l. By focusing on saying consonants correctly, you’ll automatically learn to pronounce words and phrases more like a native English speaker.

    Want expert help to get rid of a thick accent? Sign up for a Trial English Lesson

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    Learn about stressed and unstressed words/syllables 

    Stressing a word or syllable means placing emphasis on it. For example, in the word “syllable”, the emphasis or stress is on the first syllable. There are many rules governing where emphasis falls on a given word, and you can study those, but often the best way to learn is simply by listening and memorizing how a word is supposed to sound.

    Also, some English teachers may suggest that you clearly enunciate and equally emphasize every word in a sentence in order to be understood more easily, but that’s not how native English speakers talk. If you say “I’m learning English over Skype now,” your stressed words would generally be English and Skype; the remaining words would be said more softly and passively. (This will differ depending on your meaning, so if you were responding to someone who just told you what they were learning, you might more heavily emphasize the word I’m, to show comparison with their story.)

    Focus on fixing the biggest issues

    It can be overwhelming to try to completely overhaul how you speak, especially if you’ve known English for a while already. If you want to get rid of a thick accent fast, focus on the biggest issues.

    A good course of action might be to ask people you speak to frequently and trust to tell you what parts of your speech they find most challenging to understand. Maybe you need to speak more slowly or quickly; perhaps they have trouble understanding when you say words that begin with a particular letter or sound, like B or P. Focus on making those changes at first, and once those become easy, move on to more minor issues.

    Speaking Practice is more important than Elocution lessons

    Speaking a language well is like exercising: it becomes easier the more you do it, so you have to keep pushing yourself if you’re going to keep improving. When we’re tired or distracted it’s easy to fall into bad habits, like when we slouch, but it’s important to keep pushing yourself to speak slower, to enunciate those consonants, to listen to the nightly news and repeat after the presenter. The more you do it, the more ingrained the habits become. Ask your Skype English teacher to remind you if he or she notices you backsliding into old ways. Clarity is the goal, so keep your eyes on the prize!

    Have more questions on how to get rid of a thick Accent? Join the conversation on our Facebook page and ask us any questions you have. We are always happy to connect and help.

    Post: how to get rid of a thick Accent

    October 2, 2016
    2 October 2016,
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