Now! I know that there's so many of you out there who think about the way that you speak and equate it with having a really bad accent.
Actually it goes a lot deeper when you ask me 'how can I improve my accent', how exactly do you want it to change.
Do you want to sound like a Native British?
Do you want to sound like an American?
Or your goal is to just be understood by the largest number of people throughout the world?
Or do you want to appear for Exams like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE or UKVI?
Because my answer is different depending on what exactly your goal is.
So what I do as an English language trainer and speech specialist is help you to be understood by the greatest number of people all over the world. Everyone everywhere every time you speak, now this is a bit different, than someone that helps you sound American or sound British in my opinion sounding American or British isn't the cure to your problems.
If you're a global citizen someone who is working throughout the world and dealing with citizens from all over the world native and non-native speakers, or appearing for an International English Language test and prove your ability to speak like a native then your first priority needs to be to speak clearly and confidently in English rather than emphasising on the Accent.
So when you ask me 'how do i improve my accent', the answer that I'm giving you is to help you align yourself with speaking with clarity and confidence so how can you speak with greater clarity and confidence and improve your accent in the sense that more people can understand you every time the first time
There are three things that you need to do:
The first one is to make sure that you have clear consonant sounds, every consonant sound. What are the consonants again, everyone who may not remember AEIOU those are our vowel sound all the rest of the alphabet are the consonants. So when we say make sure your consonants are unique, it means that your 'R' cannot sound like an 'L' and your 'L' cannot sound like 'R' your 'V' and 'W' need to be two different sounds your 'TH' should be clear although in global settings. I found that the 'TH' really doesn't matter so much it's one exception to the rule but all of these different sounds need to be unique.
Some other special things about consonants: there are three sounds the 'P', 'T' and 'K' which we call closest. When these sounds are at the beginning of a word you need to make sure there's this little extra breath following the sound before you continue the word so when you say a word like pop, it shouldn't sound like pop it needs to have this little burst of air before the O pop.
Okay the second thing that you need to do is: work on your vowels now the actual sounds that you choose to use aren't so important. What is important is that you are consistent. So if you say 'path' you should also say 'bath' but if you prefer 'path' and 'bath' that's okay too but make sure that you are consistent. It makes it much easier for your listener to tune their ear and begin to understand when you use certain sounds so it's all about consistency.
The other key to vowel sounds is knowing how long to hold a sound. So if we look at a word like cap and compare it with a word cab the difference here is not so much the sound at the end of the word the 'P' and the 'B' what the real difference is. It is how long we hold the vowel sound so before the 'P' ending we say cap short and sharp but before the 'B' ending we say cab cab we stretch out that a now why do we do this. The P sound is unvoiced we do not use our vocal folds we do not add any resonance to that sound as we do in ba ba here we're adding voice we're adding vibration so in cap the a is short and sharp in cab we lengthen it.
Now the third thing that you need to remember is how to chunk your messages, this is usually what people mean when they start saying, 'how can I sound like a native speaker or how can I improve my accent', they're thinking about patterning the flow that we have as native speakers when we speak English. So what you want to do is start watching English programmes on TV, listening to the radio, listen to English programmes, Watch TED Talks on Youtube. Get a feel for the rhythm of the language because how you chunk your messages and where you choose to pause is very important, if you break up a thought a thought group a phrase and you stop in the middle and you take a breath or you you you are really choppy in your speech. it's very difficult for your listener to follow.
So if you're asking like so many of my clients do, how can I improve my accent, these are the three things that I would recommend that you do keep your consonants very clear, watch your vowel length and be consistent with the vowels that you use and finally pay attention to the patterning of the language and how you chunk your messages.
If you'd like to learn more about clear speech and pronunciation then Join a course at Casper Academy now. I'll see you there.