My accent is bad...what can I do?

Mis à jour : 2 nov. 2019

First of all, let me break to you that 99.99% of people who learn a language after puberty will have an accent. Scientists are unsure of the exact reason why, but it’s a fact.

Your main aim should be to feel confident that everyone in every situation can understand you. Speaking clearly and speaking without an accent are two totally different things.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to have a really strong accent for the rest of your life. There are lots of things you can do to help.

1. Work with a teacher or coach who can identify your specific pronunciation difficulties. (These are usually related to your first language.) You should then work on them one at a time by doing some conscious exercises: concentrating on pronouncing that sound carefully while you speak or while you read aloud. With conscious effort, you’ll eventually have a better pronunciation, unconsciously.​

2. Emphasise stressed words and syllables. In English, we put an accent on certain words and certain syllables in a sentence. The more you practise doing this, the better your pronunciation will be and the more people will understand you, even if you are not pronouncing all the sounds correctly.

3. Use the dictation feature on your phone. Dictate a text, or talk to Siri, and see what it writes. This is a great way to practise saying difficult words or phrases and making them comprehensible. Remember: if Siri understands you, so will everyone else.

Does Siri understand your accent?

4. Listen to English. You can improve your pronunciation a lot by listening to good pronunciation. Watch more TV!

5. Sing. If you like singing, find the lyrics to your favourite song and sing along. This is great practice. If you are musical, in my experience you have a better chance of really improving your pronunciation.

I speak French every day and I have an accent. Sometimes it’s really annoying. Especially now that my children love to correct me (I just avoid the word grenouille altogether) and some people just seem not to understand me.

Whenever you feel down about your accent, remember the words of Amy Chua: "Do you know what a foreign accent is? It's a sign of bravery."

#pronunciation #accent

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