When trying to learn or speak a new language, your native accent might make it difficult for you. Here are some tips that can help you overcome your accent so that you’ll be able to better pronounce words and communicate with others.
One of the reasons many people have trouble overcoming their accent is actually that they have incorrect preconceptions of what another language should sound like. When learning new words, listen very actively and really hear exactly what the sounds are. Hearing words for how they really sound and not how you think they sound can make a very big difference in your ability to pronounce words in another language.
The most important way to overcome your accent is to speak slowly. Try speaking very slowly and concentrating on just one word at a time. Most people find that it’s much easier to eliminate their accent than they thought it was. Speaking slowly will help you pronounce words more correctly and clearly, and it will greatly increase your ability to communicate with other people. Even if a heavy accent still exists, talking slowly will help native speakers hear and understand exactly what you are saying. Talking too fast makes it too difficult for them to process your words.
Say and Repeat
When learning a new word, say it out loud in its correct pronunciation, and repeat it many times. Repetition is the key to remembering and speaking the correct pronunciation, because it essentially helps you train your brain to say the word in the proper accent. With sufficient repetition and practice, it will become easier for you to automatically recall and use the proper pronunciation of the word without your native accent.
Practice the Accent
It’s so simple, yet so important. Oftentimes people with heavy accents are apprehensive about using another language, because they’re not confident about their abilities and are afraid of potential language barriers. You can’t overcome your accent, however, if you don’t practice. Whenever possible, use the language and converse with native speakers. Try to take advantage of opportunities to practice speaking rather than shy away from challenges.
Join a Group
If you can find a language study group in your area, join it. Practicing with others, having mock conversations, and helping each other will increase your confidence and help you overcome your accent. If possible, join a class with an experienced teacher who can help coach you. Learning in a school-like atmosphere is a great way to practice correct pronunciation and acquire other skills that will help improve your ability to communicate with native speakers despite your accent.
Study the Language
Languages differ wildly in the way they pronounce letters and in the cadence of their speech. Try to study the language, and begin by learning how vowels are pronounced, which is a particular challenge when learning English. Also try to pay attention to the rhythm of speech and the intonation of words. Altering the way your voice rises and falls when speaking another language may help you overcome your accent.
About Guest Author: Stella Brown works as a migrant education advisor tutoring Spanish speaking students to help them overcome language barriers. This article was prepared with the help and partnership of Glovico.