Accent Reduction: How Long Will it Take to Reduce Your Accent in English?
Did you know that 20% of the world’s population speaks English? Today, English is spoken by 1.7 billion people, but 1.3 billion of them are non-native speakers. This shows us that we don’t need to be native to speak English, all we need to do is practice and believe in ourselves.
Learning a new language is not an easy task, and we often think that the main challenges of a foreign language are grammar, vocabulary, or writing.
However, we shouldn’t ignore the challenges presented by accent. You can make changes to your strong accent so that native speakers can understand you.
Most people born outside of the United States feel that their native accent holds them back and prevents them from speaking in public, especially when they are speaking with native English speakers. Sounding like a native can be a challenge for non-native English speakers, but it’s not impossible.
Can non-native speakers learn an American English accent?
You may be thinking that once you have your native accent, you cannot speak a foreign language fluently. Well, in fact, this is not the case. Everyone is capable of learning new sounds to make their speech more understandable.
With great dedication, self-discipline, and the help of an American accent training course, every non-native speaker can get rid of their strong accent and speak English like a native.
If you want to have training in an American accent and speak English fluently, you can think about taking an accent reduction course.
Accent reduction courses are just like English classes and for everyone who wants to improve their American English pronunciation.
When you learn the sounds and patterns of American English, you will be much more confident while speaking and make your conversations much more enjoyable!
How Can I Reduce My Accent Quickly? (Accent Reduction)
“How long will it take to reduce my accent in an American accent?” In fact, this is the million-dollar question. Before that, you need to realize that every speaker has their own pace and style of speaking and learning.
You may have different abilities to hear accents and reproduce them. Therefore, you must be aware that different people may need different amounts of time to reduce their accent and mimic the way native English speakers pronounce English.
As you can understand, there is no easy answer to this question. In fact, how long it will take you to reduce your accent depends on a couple of variables. Let’s have look:
Your understanding of what sounds and patterns you need to improve
There are some specific sounds that are hard for native speakers of almost all languages when they are speaking in American English. For instance, voiced or voiceless dental sounds (th sound), consonant clusters, or pitch.
Your native accent will affect the way you try to pronounce the sounds in English, but as long as you understand your mistakes, you will be able to focus on these specific sounds and practice accordingly.
Long story short, you need to figure out what your specific challenges are because your native accent may have different effects on your pronunciation of English.
An accent coach can help you find out which specific sounds you have difficulty making due to your native accent and help you improve your pronunciation of them.
The time you spend on focused practice
Once you understand what sounds from your native tongue affect your foreign accent and which aspects of the American accent you need to develop, you should learn some strategies to improve what you’ve gained.
You can find useful sources such as audiobooks, online lessons, or accent reduction sessions in order to practice what you’ve learned.
Studying with an accent reduction coach is very popular among non-native English speakers. It may cost more than audiobooks or group sessions but when you work with an accent coach, you will have the opportunity to receive personalized feedback and get its results sooner than other techniques. It will also save your money and time for the future.
When you figure out the most effective way to practice, you should arrange your time accordingly. Having a study schedule will definitely make things easier; for example, many people see positive results of from scheduled practice (e.g. 3 or 4 weeks of daily practice) in a short period of time.
Daily practice will help your tongue and mouth get used to the unique sounds and patterns of American English; thus, we suggest you practice for 20 minutes everyday by using the correct techniques.
Stress, Rhythm, Intonation
According to the research done with adult English learners in Canada, people who practice macro topics related to accent and pronunciation show more noticeable progress than adults who only practice the articulation of vowels and consonants. These macro topics are:
These topics are crucial if you want to speak American English fluently because they are directly related to the core of your speech.
Studying only vowel and consonant articulation will probably not make you progress very quickly, yet if you focus more on these macro topics, you will see the difference in your speech sooner than you expected!
Your Listening Skills
In order to reduce your accent and pronounce the sounds and patterns of American English, you need to be able to hear the differences between the sounds of your native language and American English. It’s not as easy as it seems.
When we were young children, our ability to distinguish a wide variety of sounds was much better than now. However, as we get older, we lose this ability because the more we speak our first language, the more our native accent becomes dominant in our speech. As a result, it becomes harder for us to distinguish the unique sounds of other languages.
However, this doesn’t mean that we can never learn them. We can regain this talent by improving our listening skills. That is, you need to be a good listener before speaking fluently.
In order to hear the sounds and patterns correctly, you need to pay utmost attention while listening. In this way, you can understand the differences between the way you speak and the way Americans speak.
Once you get focused while listening and practice regularly, you will hear the differences much more easily.
Your Eagerness to Learn
Enthusiasm is the key to success. You cannot be successful if you do something you hate. This is especially the case in accent reduction because it requires consistent practicing and plenty of time.
If you learn to enjoy the process of practicing instead of seeing it as a burden, you will see your achievement much quicker.
Continuous Practice and Feedback
One of the major points accent reduction is practicing and receiving feedback. You can do a lot on your own, but you also need someone to guide you.
Many people who practice daily and are dedicated to learning get better results in a shorter time than those who only attend to the accent reductioncourses.
Working with an accent coach can have lots of benefits. Once you know that you have responsibilities to someone else and you’re not alone in this process, you will be much more motivated to practice and get better.
Whenever you need help, your accent coach will be ready to give feedback and eventually, your progress will be faster than you think.
Once you schedule your practicing sessions and receive detailed feedback from an accent coach, you will notice considerable improvements in your speech.
How Long Does It Take?
As we explained before, it’s hard to say the exact amount of time because your progress depends on many factors. However, most of the people we worked with saw progress in 6 to 8 weeks after a lot of practice and dedication.
People who take an accent reduction course or work with an accent coach make more progress since they’re more motivated to learn and willing to practice daily.
After 6 months of practice, you will realize that there is a huge difference in the way you speak English, and you will see the progress you’ve gone through from your speech clarity and accent reduction.
Accent reduction requires patience and dedication, it takes at least a couple of years of practice to fully obtain American English accent. It’s not a short journey, but once you gain your new accent, you will see it’s benefits in the long run.
What will happen to my native accent?
People usually notice considerable changes in their accents after 8 weeks of practice. Yet this doesn’t mean that you should forget about your native accent. Unfortunately, the media and marketing may create false beliefs and perceptions to the non-native speakers of English.
However, you should always remember that your accent is a part of who you are, and there is nothing wrong with speaking American English with your native accent.
When you learn to speak American English, you don’t give up your own accent. In fact, you probably won’t lose your accent completely. It’s a unique part of yourself, and nobody can force you to forget about your accent and speak English like you were born in the USA.
However, if you have a strong accent that is incomprehensible, then it’s a problem you should solve.
Common Mistakes People Make while Reducing their Accent (Accent Reduction)
Believing that they will get rid of their native accent completely
You can speak American English even better than a native, but this doesn’t mean your native accent will be lost forever.
It’s a part of who you are, so you cannot forget your own accent miraculously. Instead of trying to lose your native accent, you should focus more on learning an American English accent in order to sound natural while you speak.
Expecting to speak American English fluently in a couple of months
Despite what you’ve seen on the internet, you should be aware that everyone has their own pace and conditions of learning.
As we’ve explained before, there are many factors affecting your progress of learning American English, so don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals and try to find out which techniques are better for your learning and practice accordingly.
Practicing and mimicking the sounds in the same way
When people practice the sounds and patterns of English, they sometimes fail to mimic them naturally because they don’t adjust their mouth or tongue to these specific sounds naturally.
When you practice daily and use your mouth and tongue by considering how native speakers utter the specific sounds in English, you will improve the “muscle memory” of these sounds and your pronunciation will be much more natural. So, try to realize how specific sounds are articulated and mimic their pronunciation in their own way.
Not monitoring their progress
Many people do not record themselves while practicing. In fact, recording your own speech will help you in many ways. You can give yourself feedback and find out your common mistakes while practicing.
Moreover, when you reduce your accent, you can see the progress that you’ve made by listening to your recordings of how you sounded at the beginning.
Keeping a track of your practice will definitely help you develop your pronunciation skills and once you look at your progress from a broader perspective, you will gain confidence and be more motivated to speak American English!
Not incorporating anything they learn into their daily speech
Some people do not incorporate what they’ve learned in their accent reduction courses or daily practicing sessions. The fact is, you can’t be successful unless you put what you learn into practice.
Incorporating your newly gained knowledge into your everyday speech will allow you to get used to the sounds and patterns of American English, and eventually, you will speak with perfect pronunciation and sound natural to native speakers.
Starting with the easy sounds
Another mistake when people try to reduce their accent is they don’t realize that they need to start with the challenging sounds; however, focusing on the sounds and patterns that they know they can’t say or don’t have in their native accent will make things much easier.
For instance, if you don’t have a th sound in your native language, you should start with this one.
Giving up too early
Accent reduction takes time, yet many people believe they can improve their accent easily and quickly. As a result, when they see their progress is not what they expected, they lose their motivation and give up.
Learning a new accent is not an easy task, you need to be patient. You need time and effort to sound natural as some speech patterns in American English (e.g. intonation, stress) require daily practice and incorporation.
Remember that it takes time to use what you’ve learned in your accent reduction practice automatically, and to speak English naturally, you should give yourself time.
Everyone can learn to speak American English no matter how different their native accent is, but it’s up to you to make this process go more smoothly.
With great dedication and self-discipline, you can make noticeable progress very quickly. To do this, you should:
Focus on the macro topics of American English pronunciation such as stress and intonation
First, learn to be a good listener and analyze the way Americans speak English
Be diligent about practicing daily and get corrective feedback from an accent coach so you can be sure you are training your muscles correctly
Don’t worry too much about your progress and give yourself some time to see the results of your hard work.
If you’re serious about improving the way you speak American English, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. At ChatterFox, we are always here to help you improve your American English accent and speak even better than a native!