Updated: Nov 6, 2020
On a podcast episode with Christina Canters recently, I spoke with her about How to Build your confidence as a non-native speaker. We also discussed pronunciation and accent. We spoke about how sometimes people can be so self-conscious about their accents that they don't realise that the message is coming across clearly.
So in this blog post, I want to address what happens if your accent is causing you grief.
According to Esther Bruhl from Speak More Clearly, there are three key ingredients you need to consider if you want to improve your pronunciation and your accent:
However, before deciding if you need to work on your accent, I think you have to ask yourself two key things:
1. Are people always asking me to repeat myself? If the answer is yes, it's probably time to work with an expert.
2. Are you sure your accent is a problem? Sometimes we can overestimate our accent being a problem so it's important to ask someone, preferably an expert who can guide you in the right direction.
Now that you understand the idea behind it, what exactly can you do regularly to overcome these challenges?
When you practise something frequency, and repetitively it makes mouth movements more automatic. To reduce your accent, you need to repeat ALOUD frequently.
You can do this by frequently practising words and word combinations that are new or difficult. It would be best if you repeated this often because only doing it a couple of times won't help it to be automatic.
Fun tip for the music lovers: You could try singing the words or finding a song with a phrase you can repeat over and over. I do this often when learning French. I play the phrase many times and repeat it over and over, and my mouth becomes more used to movements I need to make so I can make the sounds properly.
The repetition of words and word combinations will help you to notice the subtle changes and how it feels to pronounce something correctly. It could just be as little as 10 minutes a day.
Fun tip: record some phrases on your phone and take a walk then try saying the same phrases over and over and over, until it's really to pronounce.
Some useful practice phrases for architects and landscape architects to practise:
in the playground;
in our proposal;
around that region;
simple pavement pattern;
Making improvements might only take a week for a few words and phrases, but for others, it might take longer. Remember: it can take some time to reduce a whole accent, but working on words and phrases little by little will help to build your confidence.
A fun tip for staying motivated: try recording yourself at the beginning of your accent reduction journey and each week play your new recordings and compare it back to hear your progress.
What other ways could you improve your accent?
As I've mentioned before, I believe exposing yourself to the language in a more intense way by listening to podcasts or watching short 10 minute videos is another way to train your brain to notice the sounds more.
I also believe the listening material you use should be relevant to your job, your interests and your reasons for advancing your use of English. The more relevant the listening material, the more you will encounter words, phrases and expressions that are relevant and the quicker you'll improve the pronunciation for the sounds and words that really matter.
I've made a long list of architectural, urbanism, landscape architecture and communication podcasts so I'm sure you're bound to find something suitable.
Dedicated Pronunciation programs
As a teacher, I also believe in sharing and recommending resources that I know are effective and that work. Many pronunciation programs exist, but I'm happy to be an affiliate for Esther Bruhl's pronunciation programs at Speak More Clearly because students get results. You'll find links to the different accent courses here :
Have any questions or want more information about how you can work with me or you want to know more about how to improve your accent? Send me an email anytime, and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.