3 effective ways to improve your accents
People said there is no way you can become a native speaker in your target language.
This is so WRONG.
It’s not easy but it’s definitely achievable. You can sound exactly like a native speaker with consistent efforts.
Why do we need to improve our accent in a foreign language?
Many confused about the concept between pronunciation and accents. Pronunciation is how you pronounce the words. But accents is how you pronounce a word in a certain way.
If you sound more like a native, it will enable you a smoother conversation and help you get into the circle of locals and unlock the magic of learning a new language.
Accents require a deeper knowledge of customs and culture. It is the way how people stress their words.
Wait no more. Here are the magic tricks:
- Train your ears
Listening is a fundamental part of improving one’s accents. Constant exposure to the target language will get the language in your ears so you can soon imitate how native speakers pronounce words in a certain way. For example, American and British English have a distinct way of word stress and rhythm of speech.
Therefore, never let your room be silent. When you are cooking, reading, or doing errands, broadcast something in your target language to let your ears slowly distinguish all the phonemes or distinct sound units.
2. Teach your mouth and tongue the right moves
Learning International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a good start. These are the symbols to teach you how to produce certain sounds. Practise these letters on your own in front of the mirror and pay attention to how your mouth and tongue moves when you speak.
You can even shadow a native speaker by listening to an audio clip. You repeat every sentence after the native speaker and record your voice so you can compare the pronunciation of both of you. It will train two aspects of the language — speaking and critical listening.
Accents are closely connected to the culture. If you can get into the culture, it will help improve accents further.
You can also try tongue twisters — — a powerful tool to check your vowels and improve your intonation in a short time.
3. Go out and speak
Every language has its own melody. The words are spoken in a certain rhythm with emphasis and stresses in places much different than those in your own native tongue.
Now, it’s time to act out like a native speaker. The truth is if you believe you sound in a certain way, your tongue will follow. So act out the role in the target language.
Combined with body language, gestures and expressions, you should imitate how a speaker speaks. In no time, the intonation will stick with you and you will sound a lot more like a local.
One trick of mine:
When I am learning a target language, and if I get a chance to be in that country, I will secretly listen to people talking around me and how they interact with each other. I will try to pick up their body gestures and word stress as much as I can.
After a while of immersion, you won’t even notice you sound like part of them.
Improving your accent is a funny process and it requires a lot of practice to sound like a native. Once you master it, you feel like you are living another life.