You’ve been studying English for a while now. You’ve enrolled in multiple English courses and have been practising non-stop. Still, you are not entirely satisfied with the way you are speaking.
Many non-natives who learn English as an additional language will have a very thick accent. In many cases, these learners struggle to understand native speakers and feel like they aren’t understood either. When you lack fluidity in your speech, it can be quite demotivating, especially if you have complete mastery of the language but aren’t able to display it with ease.
Should I Accept My Strong Accent?
The most straightforward and plausible approach that allows you to ease out of your accent is to simply assimilate yourself in an English country. But even then, this approach doesn’t guarantee you’d lose your strong accent entirely. What does ensure less emphasis on your accent is through practice! Learn to enunciate your words like English native speakers and seek out your tutors from your English class to work through your pronunciation problems.
Whilst your strong accent in itself is not a problem, it being a communication barrier is. It has been proven that thick accents truly hinder verbal fluency. To help you be better understood conversationally, you will need to let go of certain bad habits and adopt better pronunciation and enunciation techniques. To start off, here are the 3 main factors you’ll want to take note of when improving your pronunciation and diction.
Surprisingly, language and music share certain characteristics, including rhythm, timbre and timing. In fact, take a look at how an adult communicates with babies and infants. You’d realise that most times, there’s a sing-song characteristic to how most adults speak to babies and infants.
This musicality is not lost when you speak with your peers and other adults. You could be speaking in a tonal language or otherwise, and it’ll still carry a sense of musicality.
Thus, when listening to a native speaker speaks, aim to pick up on the different beats, rhythms, and tones within their voice. Once you’re attuned to the different rhythms and intonations within the English language. You’ll be able to incorporate the musical patterns into your own speech naturally.
Word Or Sentence Reduction
In many cases, some words aren’t included in conversations for the sake of speech fluency. In formal situations, reducing the number of words and sentences can be count as informal, but if you are conversing amongst peers and family members in a casual event, this is normal and is regarded as part of everyday conversation.
For instance, instead of asking a person, “what are you going to do this weekend?” you can opt for, “what’re you gonna do this weekend?”
Of course, this will take a lot of getting used to but essentially, you’ll be shortening the sentence to pronounce. Moreover, doing so will allow you to sound less rigid and stiff.
Imitating And Mimicking
The best way to figure out how to pronounce certain words is to mimic how native speakers talk. Start by focusing on one accent (UK or US) and stick to it. You can try your hand at mimicking your favourite artists or simply mimic your native English speaking friends!
Practice makes perfect. Start by applying these pronunciation techniques to improve your overall verbal fluency drastically. Even if you can’t rid of your strong accent, don’t force yourself! Remember, there’s nothing wrong with having a strong ‘non-native’ accent. It doesn’t make your mastery of the English language any lesser than a native’s. In fact, each English country and their individual states have their respective accents that make understanding each other difficult.
Have the best of both worlds: have an accent and be able to have verbal fluency. Be proud that you’re a non-native English speaker who has picked up the language due to your efforts!