Foreign Accent Reduction Classes Now Available
What is an accent? Simply put, an accent is the combination of pronunciation and intonation. Varying degrees of these two factors result in a variety of different accents.
Pronunciation is the result of such factors as the positioning of the vocal cords, tongue and lips as well as the amount of stress and the duration of sounds while speaking a language. Intonation is the melody, rhythm, and speed of speech. Different languages have different sets of sounds and different melodies of the speech. They also vary by average speed.
When you speak English, your accent depends on your base language. If your base language is lacking some sounds that the English language has, you might have particular difficulty pronouncing those sounds. For example, it may be challenging for native speakers of Russian to pronounce the [H] sound. Native speakers of Spanish and Arabic may have difficulty in pronouncing the sound for [V]. As a rule they would pronounce [B] instead. By the same token, Koreans would pronounce [L] instead of [R], since the [R] sound is non-existent in Korean.
Be proud of your heritage and your accent but, at the same time, be aware that an accent can impact your ability to communicate and, consequently, affect your ability to achieve your goals. If your speech cannot be understood by those in a position to hire you, promote you, increase your salary, or become your family or friends, then the doors to opportunity may be closed to you. You may ask, “Is it realistically possible to eliminate my accent?” If you came to the US as an adult, eliminating your accent altogether may be impossible. That’s the bad news (as they say in America). But do not despair! The good news is – it is not at all necessary to eliminate an accent altogether. While a heavy accent makes it difficult to understand your speech, a light accent can work to your advantage as long as others understand what you are saying. Let me explain this.
While Americans tend to have difficulty understanding foreigners with heavy accents, a light accent that does not distract from the clarity of speech is often considered charming and, for certain jobs, can even be a desirable quality in a job candidate. For example, an American company that markets products internationally may realize increased sales through a salesperson who can communicate clearly yet still retain his/her native accent. In this case, the accent has a subtle appeal that can work to establish a rapport (or connection) between the company and the client. Therefore, taking steps to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, your accent can help you in your job quest.
There are several ways to go about reducing your accent. You can purchase or borrow from your local library an audio or video guide aimed at accent reduction. You can hire either a language pathologist or accent reduction coach. Or you can do what I did: work on your accent reduction yourself using the following tips that proved effective for me.
Some of the learn languages tips will also help to expand your vocabulary:
Listen to American speech and try to emulate American accent. If you are in the US, you have the advantage of immersion into a live language. In addition to watching movies and listening to TV and radio programs, you can engage yourself in live communication with Americans, anywhere and anytime – for example, at your workplace, the supermarket, and even at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Join Toastmasters. One of the best ways to mix with Americans and improve your speaking in public is to join a Toastmasters Club. You can find a Toastmasters Club in virtually anywhere. Just go to http://www.toastmasters.org and look for a club close to you. When you visit or join a club, ask the club members to jot down the words in your speech they did not understand. Practice saying these words at home and incorporate them into your speech at the next meeting.
Tape your speech. Analyze the tapes and jot down frequent mistakes you make. Ask for feedback from others. Create a list of most frequently mispronounced words, expressions and constructions. Work on the list daily; read the units over and over again until you get them right.
Read aloud every day. While you read, tape yourself. Listen to the tapes. Repeat words over and over. Remember, minimizing an accent takes practice.
Tape real-life conversations. Create your own list of the most frequent words and expressions. Pronounce them over and over again until you get them right.
Buy or borrow from your local library an audio and a printed version of the same book. Listen to the audio while following the text. Try to repeat sentences and tape yourself.
Listen to the media. Listen to American reporters speak. They speak standard American English.
Borrow tapes from the library. Make this enjoyable. Listen to the kind of tapes you enjoy most. Do it while you are driving, walking, performing home chores. If you enjoy the book, the time will go by fast and you will have a chance to improve your listening skills and vocabulary as well as work on reducing your accent.
Speak slowly and enunciate. Enunciating means pronouncing the sounds very distinctly. Pay special attention to the endings and vowels.
Be persistent. It is a lot of work, but your efforts will be rewarded. Change does not happen overnight, but it does happen if you are positive and persistent. Remember, persistence is one of the underlying values of the American culture.
If you want to know more about Lingua School at Broward College then you should check their official website for more info.
Address: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Weston, Florida Toll Free: (888) 6-LINGUA
Phone Number: (954) 951-2430