As a certified accent modification specialist, I work with individuals from around the world to help them improve their pronunciation and neutralize their accented speech. Regardless of their native language and culture, I found that each of my clients had similar misconceptions they had to overcome before choosing the path to better pronunciation.
The first misconception is: Adults can’t change their accent. The truth is speech is nothing more an elaborate skill acquired like any other learned skill through practice and repetition. Humans have a huge capacity for learning throughout their lives and I guide my client to think about our work together as if they are learning a new accent rather than eliminating their current accent. My clients are learning an American English accent and an important component of learning new accent skills is training the mouth and tongue to move in slightly different ways. Learning to coordinate new muscle movements requires coaching just like a tennis coach can help you learn to serve a ball, or a music teacher can give you lessons on playing the guitar. Just like in these examples, learning to play tennis or the guitar, how successful you are improving your American accent depends on how much you practice. With a speech coach guiding your personalized pronunciation practice you can change your accent successfully.
However without a speech coach your pronunciation will not improve. Which brings us to the second misconception on accents: The longer I live in the U.S. the more I’ll sound like a native speaker of American English. By living in the U.S. you can certainly learn new vocabulary and colloquial phrases which will help your overall understanding of the English language, but pronunciation is everything. Think about this, if you had a roommate who was a championship winning tennis player, by just hanging out with them would your tennis skills get better? Of course not. The only way to improve your pronunciation skills is to learn how to hear and create the corrected sounds yourself and then practice every day.
Misconception three is: I’m just not good at pronunciation. The fact is you’re struggling with being understood and your accent has distracting sounds because you were never taught the correct rules of pronunciation. As I work with my clients from around the world, their stories of how they learned English are universally the same. In school they were taught grammar rules, memorized vocabulary lists, practiced reading comprehension and writing paragraphs, but they did not focus on pronunciation to correctly learn all the stress patterns, intonation and rhythm of spoken English. Frankly, it is impossible to learn correct American English pronunciation from a non-native speaker and I have never had a client who first learned English from a native English speaker. Accent reduction training from a native English speaker is the only way you can learn the rules of pronunciation, train your ears to hear the correct sounds and change your speech habits to remove and neutralize distracting sounds.
You can improve your accent and I can help. We can overcome these misconceptions and start you on your path to better pronunciation. Give me a call today at 303.579.3545 or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Thank you.