How To Lose a Foreign Accent: 3 Easy Tips To Help You Sound Like a Native

How To Lose a Foreign Accent: 3 Easy Tips To Help You Sound Like a Native

Just as there are many different languages in the world, there are also many different accents.

An accent is a certain way of speaking that people associate with a certain language, region, and culture. All of us have one accent or another that emphasizes that we belong to a certain group of people.

An accent can be exotic or sexy or just a point of pride. It’s a verbal banner that lets people know where you are from. However, if you are trying to learn a new language, an accent can hamper your ability to gain fluency. 

If you want to be able to hold a conversation in another language, it can be very important that you learn how to reduce or at least lose a foreign accent.

What is an accent?

Your native accent is determined by the way that we move our mouths when we pronounce certain words and phrases. The way we were taught to stress certain syllables also affects our accent.

An accent is basically a speech pattern that is used by a particular group of people when speaking a certain language. Most of us picked up our “native” accent at the same time that we picked up our native language.

One of the first things a child learning how to talk learns is to copy the sounds that they hear coming out of the mouths of those around them. They eventually realize that these sounds strung together makeup words and that is how they learn to use language to communicate.

It’s not just words that a child is picking up; however, it’s also a certain way of pronouncing these words. This is how a child develops an accent.  

A child needs to hear a language and an accent to pick it up, and so do you, an adult. If you learn a new language, especially if you travel to or live in an area with a different accent from where you grew up, you will pick up new ways of pronouncing words or new speech patterns.

Is it possible to lose a foreign accent?

Since our accent depends a lot on the language that we consider our “first” or just by the accent of those who are around us, you might be wondering is it possible to lose your accent?

As we said, if you are exposed to another language or even another accent, you could find your speech patterns changing. 

Much like how learning a language is a little easier as a child, however, so is learning another accent. You need to make a conscious effort to hear and absorb the different speech patterns you now hear around you and train yourself to use these “new” sounds instead of the sounds you grew up with. 

It is possible, however, with both training and practice to achieve accent reduction and even change your accent altogether.

Why is losing my accent important?

The most important reason to learn a foreign language is in order to be able to communicate with native speakers. In order to do so, it’s important to speak clearly so that you are easily understood.

If you mispronounce important words or phrases, you could have a hard time communicating with those around you. If you are learning a second language because you are going to be traveling extensively in an area where that language is spoken it would be wise to look into accent reduction.

If you are learning a language because you want to improve your career options or because you are going to do business abroad, accent reduction is practically a must. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in a workplace setting.

Why is losing a foreign accent challenging?

As we mentioned, when you learned your “first language” as a child, you learned a specific way of creating sounds. As you grow up, the way that your mouth moves to produce sounds and pronounce words becomes “instinctive”.

When you learn to speak in another language, you will be going against some of the instincts you developed as a child. Sometimes you will find that you need to move your mouth and pronounce things in a totally different way than you used to. 

Many second language learners also find that there are some sounds, speech patterns, or even letters that didn’t exist in their first language. So that is an additional thing that they now need to learn.

For example, some languages, use a rolled “r” which requires you to position your tongue and your mouth a certain way. 

Another example of how people’s accents are determined by how they pronounce things is the letter “l” in Japan. In Japanese, there is no real equivalent to “r” and thus many Japanese speakers trying to learn English struggle to pronounce words with “r”. Often, it ends up sounding like “l”, especially at the start of the world.

How to lose a foreign accent with 3 steps

Proper pronunciation is key to making yourself understood when speaking a foreign language. If you tutor or language learning center is on the ball, they should help you not just learn the meaning of words and phrases, but also the proper pronunciation.

Learning how “new words” are pronounced will help you reduce if not outright lose your foreign accent.  Paying attention to your pronunciation lessons then is key, but here are a few other steps you can take to get rid of your accent.

1. Decide on the foreign accent you want to adopt

If you want to lose a foreign accent, you need to “replace” it with another one, usually the one accent that native speakers have. 

Take note that, while there are many countries in the world that share a language, there are often slight regional differences in their accents.

For example, English is a common language spoken in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. While they use the same words and rules of grammar, they don’t “sound” the same. This is because there are different accents adopted by the speakers.

If you want a British accent instead of an American accent when speaking English, you need to study how British English speakers pronounce things. The same goes for any other type of foreign accent. Decide what accent you want to “replace” your own with and study it.

2. Expose yourself to the “proper” accent

A key way to reduce your own accent and learn a new one is to listen to people speaking in the accent that you want to acquire. 

So, once you have decided on the accent that you want to adopt, you should look for things that you can watch or listen to that feature person speaking in that accent.

Try to find movies or TV shows that feature people speaking in not just the language that you want to learn, but also the accent that you want to acquire. 

If you’ve already been watching films or series on Netflix in, for example, Spanish to improve your comprehension try watching it again and this time focus on listening to how they speak.

Since what you need to focus on is the “sound” of the words, listening to audio files is especially helpful. Podcasts, short audiobooks, or music can also help you learn an accent.

3. Practice proper mouth movements

One major factor that determines an accent is how the speaker moves their mouth when forming certain sounds. Practicing how your mouth moves when you pronounce certain sounds will reduce your own accent and help you learn a new one.

In order to learn how to properly move your mouth the lose your foreign accent, you should watch people talk. Again, watching TV shows and movies will help, especially if you can slow things down so you can really focus on their mouths.

Now, say the dialogue along with the people on screen. Try to copy how their mouths move and see if you can recreate the same sounds.

YouTube is a particularly valuable tool here. There are many videos out there that feature people talking about accent reduction and pronunciation. 

The advantage of these YouTube video’s over say a TV series is they will often focus on the person’s mouth. The dialogue is slowed down and the speaker often exaggerates how they move their mouth so it is easier to follow along.  

Conclusion

Another important step you need to take to lose your foreign accent is to work with a native language tutor.

Hearing the language spoken by a native speaker in their native accent will help you grasp the different sounds and rhythms inherent to a language. Working with a tutor will ensure that you have someone who can correct your pronunciation in real-time and give you tips on how to properly develop your foreign accent.  

Make sure that you let your online native speaking tutor that you are interested in accent reduction. They can incorporate more accent reduction lessons and suggest some fun pronunciation exercises – like tongue twisters – that will help you speak more clearly.

Is it possible to lose a foreign accent?

Since our accent depends a lot on the language that we consider our “first” or just by the accent of those who are around us, you might be wondering is it possible to lose your accent? As we said, if you are exposed to another language or even another accent, you could find your speech patterns changing. Much like how learning a language is a little easier as a child, however, so is learning another accent. You need to make a conscious effort to hear and absorb the different speech patterns you now hear around you and train yourself to use these “new” sounds instead of the sounds you grew up with. It is possible, however, with both training and practice to achieve accent reduction and even change your accent altogether.

Why is losing my accent important?

The most important reason to learn a foreign language is in order to be able to communicate with native speakers. In order to do so, it’s important to speak clearly so that you are easily understood. If you mispronounce important words or phrases, you could have a hard time communicating with those around you. If you are learning a second language because you are going to be traveling extensively in an area where that language is spoken it would be wise to look into accent reduction. If you are learning a language because you want to improve your career options or because you are going to do business abroad, accent reduction is practically a must. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in a workplace setting.

Why is it challenging to lose a foreign accent?

When you learned your “first language” as a child, you learned a specific way of creating sounds. As you grow up, the way that your mouth moves to produce sounds and pronounce words becomes “instinctive”. When you learn to speak in another language, you will be going against some of the instincts you developed as a child. Sometimes you will find that you need to move your mouth and pronounce things in a totally different way than you used to. Many second language learners also find that there are some sounds, speech patterns, or even letters that didn’t exist in their first language. So that is an additional thing that they now need to learn. For example, some languages, use a rolled “r” which requires you to position your tongue and your mouth a certain way.

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