Voice and Accent

Overview of Voice and Accent

There are 3 level of English pronunciation

Level 1: People often don't understand what you want to say. You use the wrong sounds in English words.

Level 2: People understand what you want to say, but it is unpleasant to listen to you.

Level 3: People understand you, and your English is pleasant to listen to

Can I reduce my Accent?

Anybody with the desire to reduce their accent can reduce their accent.

Change begins with the desire to change. When we combine our desire with proper instruction and practice, we achieve success!

The key to learning to speak English clearly and correctly is training and practice. Clear and accurate speech comes from "doing."

Reducing your accent is different than other skills such as grammar and vocabulary. Studying accent reduction is more like studying dance, music, sports or martial arts. It involves the training of muscle groups. Everybody is born with these muscle groups located in our tongue, lips and jaw.

All that you need is the desire to change, proper instruction and most of all practice and training! Accent reduction is about "doing."

Simply observing or knowing how to, is not enough. Awareness and knowledge is important but you have to try it in order to be able to actually do it.

What is an "Accent?"

We often hear people say, “I want to reduce my accent," or "He has an accent, ". But what exactly is an accent?

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Essentially, an accent is the process by which a speaker substitutes a sound from their native language for a sound from English. This “transference” occurs mainly for two reasons.

The first reason is that the speaker is not aware that a specific sound exists in English. Hence, they use the closest sound from their native language instead.

For example, many students are unaware of the sound /I/ as in the word chip or big. As a result, when saying the word chip,they substitute a similar sound which exists in their native language. Usually, they choose /i/ as in the word he or meet.

So a word like chip ends up sounding like cheap and there it is , an accent -not to mention some confusion in mid -conversation.

The second reason a speaker substitutes the wrong sound is that he or she may simply find it too difficult to pronounce the correct sound.

For example, many students are aware of the sound /th/ as in think or that. However the articulation of the sound is just too difficult or feels unnatural The result is that /th/ is pronounced like /s/, /z,/ /d/ or /t/.

The word that may sound like “zat” or “ dat” The student chooses /z/ or /d/ because it's easier and “close enough.”

Another element of an accent is incorrect intonation. English has a melody. You have to become aware of the melody of English. Don't worry. It's a very simple melody and you don't have to have musical training or a musical ear to learn it. It doesn't involve specific pitches – just knowing when to raise your pitch and when to lower it.

Finally, some people have accents because they put the stress in the wrong places of words and sentences.

For example instead of saying convince

They might say: convince

This can be confusing for a listener. But there are simple rules to guide you when you're not sure. Once you learn the rules, it gets easier and the stress patterns start to become second nature. 

In order to lose your accent, you must first become aware of all the sounds of English. For example, there are five vowels in the Latin alphabet-A, E, I, O and U.

However, there are fifteen vowels sounds in English! You are probably already aware of most of them.

Losing your accent involves learning how to properly articulate the vowels and consonant sounds and finally, using them habitually in your everyday speech.