How can you reduce your strong accent?

G’day, how’s it going? Today, I am going to share with you when it comes to the ways of reducing your strong accent. Many ESL students are worried about their strong accent that often hamper their listeners’ understanding. I’ve done fairly successfully, so my ways might be applicable to some of you.

  1. Forget about ‘Katakana English’ (Understood amongst only educated or business people). Too many Katakana English words or phrases have been rampant in today’s Japanese society. This fact has obviously an adverse effect on people learning English. If you are not Japanese, you guys might have also the same sort of pseudo-English words or phrases in your mother tongue. Please be aware of pronunciation as it mightn’t be the same as how English pronunciation sounds.
  2. Check the IPA 44 sounds (22 vowels and 22 consonants), and train yourself these sounds until you can confidently and accurately pronounce them. This makes your life a lot easier than sticking to your prior understanding of pseudo-English words or Katakana English.
  3. Vocal exercises using your deep throat in an effective way. We Japanese don’t usually vocalise using that deep throat, but just a very surface inside your mouth. Although it depends on where you grew up in Japan, Tokyo standardised Japanese should be like that. If you are coming from the Western Japan such as Hiroshima, Okayama, or Osaka, you probably have a better voice that might be closer to the way of producing English sounds.
  4. You should be careful about the connection between a word and a word, because they often need to be connected together to be heard more naturally. So, you should learn how connected speech works, which is significantly an important part of training for the reduction of your strong accent.
  5. English rhythms and phrasing are also crucially important for English learners. The more fluent your speech is, the less strong accent you will have. But of course, being fluent itself doesn’t mean you’ve completely reduced your accent. It depends on how you are committed yourself to refining 44 sounds of English pronunciation. In terms of phrasing, you should read phrase by phrase, like SVO, depending clause, insertion and full stop. You don’t need pauses but a kind of very very short rest between phrases, especially a bit longer rest for , comma, semi/colon, and . full stop. If you just say in a completely monotonous way, then it’s a bit boring to be heard and you are not excited about talking, so I’d suggest you having a bit of intonation (ups and downs).
  6. Finally, recording yourself using a voice recorder or a voice recognition software as well. Then, I highly recommend analysing the recorded voice in terms of pronunciation, connected speech, rhythm and phrasing. The first three months will be the key to success. “Continuation is the cornerstone of accent reduction.”

Thanks for reading today!

Have a good one!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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