This is the second part of our advice article on how to start getting rid of your accent and become more like a native speaker. The first part of this advice article dealt with the more general problem of heavy accents and gave a short introduction to how to start solving this issue. You can read the full first part here.
In the first part, we started with the advice of immersing yourself in the way your native language sounds – listen to broadcasts or watch TV shows to train your ear to be familiar with the new sounds. After you feel comfortable in distinguishing the details of native pronunciation of your target language, it’s time to take the next steps.
Record and Compare
So, after you feel comfortable with listening to how your target language sounds coming from the mouths of native speakers, you can focus on starting to sound like that as well. First, however, you need to know where you make the most mistakes.
The best way to find out, is to listen to yourself talking your target language from a recording. For example, you could take a scene from your favourite TV-show and try to replay it. Or compare your reading an excerpt from your most loved book to the audiobook version. Even trying to sing your favourite song might be a great help.
When you have your two versions of the same text, give both of them a thorough listen and compare the two. Pay attention to how your pronunciation differs from the native speaker’s while also noting the similarities.
The reason TV-shows are such a good source for listening and practicing native-speak is because firstly, actors get special training to be as clear and articulate as possible and, secondly, they might be over pronunciating their lines. And this is a good thing.
When you first start to try sounding like a native, the thing to do is to go over the top. Over pronunciate all of the French R-s and German Z-s you can find because that helps you get accustomed to the sounds themselves better.
Make the Task Manageable
Next, do your best to imitate the native accent’s speed, intonation, tone, and emphasis. Even if you can’t get it right the first time, keep recording yourself and practicing speaking the same familiar text or scene.
If you can’t manage an entire paragraph of text, try cutting it to a few sentences, words, or even simply sounds. There are several Youtube channels focused on helping people sound more native. If you’re having trouble with one particular sound – learn it from a video and then start practicing it in words and then sentences.
The key is to keep practicing to teach your brain and tongue to make these news sounds casually. If you start with a text you’re familiar with, you don’t have to focus on what you’re saying and can instead listen to how you’re saying it. After some time, these new sounds should become second nature and you’ll be able to use them in casual conversation as successfully as in your recordings.
And who knows, if you pay attention to pronunciation, it might even help you learn the language quicker.
If you found this post helpful, or simply are more interested in you English skills, then our teacher Lilliana has already written a bit on a similar topic – more precisely, she wrote on how to quickly improve your English pronunciation.