Client – “Why do I need a course in accent reduction? Can’t I just learn the ideas in a couple sessions?”
Me – I’m glad you asked. We usually want our accent reduction clients to take a beginning course of 10 – 15 sessions. Although some clients benefit from a few lessons, most should take a course of sessions to learn new techniques, have time to practice and receive feedback from their instructor.
You learned your first language when you were 5 – 7 years old. During that time you practiced and played with the sounds, linking and intonation. You probably sang songs, recited rhymes and poems, talked to and listened to many different folks, all speaking your first language. You received feedback from others (adults and children alike) if you were making the sounds and melodies correctly. You had time to practice and perfect your first language, the sounds, linking and intonation.
Years later you learned English. You learned the vocabulary and grammar so you could speak in sentences. But your kept your sounds, linking and intonation patterns from your first language, and simply laid those on top of English. So that is why you are speaking with an accent! The more similar your first language is to English, the less noticeable your accent will be. The less similar your first language is to English, the more noticeable your accent will be and this will make it harder for others to understand you.
It may help you to know EVERYONE speaks with an accent. No matter what language you use….
no matter where you live on the planet….
you speak in the accent of your first, and home, language.
If you want to speak English well, you need to imitate English sounds, linking and intonation, and this takes time, practice and feedback! Here are some activities to support learning the new accent:
- Take a course for 10 – 15 lessons from a specially-trained teacher, like a speech-language pathologist.
- Record your lessons and play back for further practice.
- Befriend an American who is willing to talk with you and let you know about your mistakes.
- Watch TV, and listen to radio in English.
- Mimic the accent you want to learn. Mimicry helps your brain to be comfortable in the new accent.
So why can’t this you learn a new accent in a couple lessons? Because you need time, practice and feedback.