Whatever nationality we are, we all have an accent of some sort. Some accents are stronger than others. Some accents can vary from one part of the country to the next. If you want to lose your accent so that you can be more clearly understood when you talk with others then it will take very regular practice. English is a language, which is spoken in business and for personal reasons in many countries of the world. Here are 8 ways to reduce your accent and speak more clearly.
This is very important to ensure that native speakers understand what you are saying. Always try and speak slowly and clearly making sure you pronounce all the syllables (part of a word we pronounce) in every word. Try practising talking out loud by yourself or with a member of your family or with a friend.
Listen to the radio or audio books
You can listen to the radio and audio books at any time either using the internet for listening to the radio or a tablet or a cd to listen to audio books. Choose a programme or book which interests you and this will help you hear how the words are correctly pronounced. You can also use YouTube via the internet or listen to audio books when travelling to help you listen to the spoken English language.
Watch television or films
There are many television programmes or series that you can start by listening to with sub-titles and once you understand the story you can then watch in English. Choose a television programme or film, which interests you and maybe watch a second time once you understand what the programme or film is about, then on the second time of watching listen to the pronunciation of what is being spoken.
Visit an English speaking country/talk with a native English speaker
If you can visit England, America, Canada where they speak English as their native language, you will be able to practice your English with natives. Otherwise, learn to practice with a native English speaker perhaps online or via a language app like Duolingo.
Intonation and stress
Listen to how the voices of native English speakers rise and fall. Intonation refers to the ‘music of your voice’ whereas stress refers to the ‘rhythm of the word’. It is important to learn the shape and length of the vowels you are using together with how your mouth forms the consonant sounds. Practice will help you improve the way you pronounce words and reduce your accent.
Practice tongue twisters
Start by practising simple tongue twisters and then progress to more difficult ones. Record yourself saying these tongue twisters and then listen to what you have recorded. Trying saying these as clearly and slowly as you can and then repeat several times. Here are examples of tongue twisters and will help you improve pronunciation and reduce your accent:
Purple paper people. Purple paper people. Purple paper people.
I have got a date at a quarter to eight. I’ll see you at the gate, so don’t be late.
A box of mixed biscuits. A mixed biscuit box.
If 2 witches were watching 2 watches, which witch would watch which watch?
Learn the differences between British English and American English
Some words are pronounced very differently in British English to American English. So depending on which accent you would like to learn, you will learn the pronunciation for the words either in British English or American English. Here are some examples:
Word British English American English
Often of-uhn of-tuhn
Vitamin vit-a-min vite-a-min
Mobile moh-bye-ul moh-buhl
Neither nigh-thuh nee-thuh
Silent letters are letters that you cannot hear when these words are pronounced but are included in the words when they are written. These words, which have silent letters, need to be learnt.
Words with a silent ‘n’: autumn column
Words with a silent ‘g’: sign foreign
Words with a silent ‘b’: thumb doubt
Words with a silent ‘k’: knock knee knife know
Words with a silent ‘t’: listen watch mortgage tsunami
Words with a silent ‘w’: wrist write wrote wrong
Words with a silent ‘l’: half calm talk
Words with a silent ‘u’: guess guard tongue
Words with a silent ‘h’: ghost honest
When you are listening to different accents, listen to how the native English-speaking speakers use tone and emphasis when they talk. The quickest way to reduce your accent is by immersing yourself in English conversation. It is very important that you practice speaking English as often as possible. Daily practice is the best but if you do not have the time to speak English every day of the week, then make time at least three times a week to practice. Even if this practise is for only 15 minutes per day.