Whether someone needs to work on their accent in English really depends on the degree to which people can understand them and whether they are happy with their own pronunciation.
To improve your pronunciation you need to start by improving your spoken English. Even if your pronunciation is good, it may be that some people will have a problem understanding you because of your accent. That could just because they’re just not expecting you to have an accent and it confuses them or it could be that your native accent is overpowering how articulately you can speak in English.
Some people may want to get rid of their own accent and replace it with a popular accent such as an American, British or Canadian accent simply because they just like the sound. Find out in this article our tips to improve your accent!
Choose your preferred accent
If you want to talk like a native speaker and copy their accent, then you’ll need to imitate them and practise doing that regularly so that it becomes second nature. Accent is different to pronunciation as it can change the way that letters are stressed in words. Some letters may disappear altogether sometimes. Americans often drop the ‘t’ sound and replace it with a ‘d’ sound in words such as ‘butter’ and they might say ‘wanna’ instead of ‘want to’. Of course, there are a variety of American and British accents depending on the area of the country that people are from too. A Liverpool accent is very different to a London accent in the UK and a U.S Southern accent is quite different from a New York accent. You can choose to speak in any one of these accents if you are willing to devote the time to listen and copy.
TV shows and movies are an excellent resource if you want to look for a particular accent to listen to and copy. Simply find someone that you want to speak like and keep listening, repeating, copying and repeating some more. Notice the small sounds and differences in the way they speak and imitate them. With continued practise over time, you will have a similar accent.
Canadians have a softer accent that differs from the typical American accent. The Canadian accent commonly uses different sounds such as the well-known example of ‘ah-boot’ for about. They are also known to say ‘eh’ quite a lot as in ‘It’s a beautiful day, eh?’
There are plenty of other native English accents to choose from such as a variety of American, Canadian and British accents from different areas, as well as accents from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Jamaica!
What is wrong with your current accent?
Another thing consider is whether you need to get rid of your current accent at all. Ask a native speaker to listen to you and give you some advice. Sometimes you might not realise how great you sound already. Accents can add personality to English speech and without accents and intonation, speech would sound boring.
Not all accents are easy for the average English speaker to understand though. If you’ve been told that you are difficult to understand because of your accent then mastering English pronunciation and intonation is the first step towards speaking with a more native accent. Speaking like a native won’t be something that happens overnight though. It’s going to take a lot of time and practice. But if you work hard and continue to improve your speaking, you’ll begin to notice that people have an easier time understanding your English in conversations! Discover our tips for staying motivated in learning English.
How’s your stress and intonation?
Intonation is basically the tone that you speak in and the stress that you put on different parts of a word. English speakers have different intonations or place different stresses on words depending on where they’re from. For example, when saying “Address,” an American English speaker will say “AD-dress,” whereas a British English speaker will usually say “ad-DRESS.”
Using the wrong intonation isn’t just confusing to listen to, it can also affect the meaning of your sentence too. If you are constantly speaking in the wrong tone with incorrect stresses, then you may also be changing the meaning of what you’re saying.
You can improve your intonation by using the same method as you would to improve your pronunciation. Listen to native speakers in videos, movies and podcasts and repeat what they say while trying to imitate the sounds they are making.
Stress and intonation are components of accents and working on them will affect how well you are understood and how close you are to achieving the accent you want.
Practice makes for a perfect accent
Once you’ve decided whether you need to change your accent then you’ll need to start practising. The only way you’re going to speak English without an accent is by trying to speak in English every chance you can get. Talk to your friends, chat with English speakers or talk to yourself if you have to!
You’ll also need to work on connected speech. This is when you push individual words together so that they sound like one word. These examples might give you some idea:
- ‘Turn off your phone.’ Connected speech ‘Tur noff yaphone.’
- ‘Who is your favourite actor?’ Connected speech ‘Who wis yafavouritactor?’
- ‘Nice to meet you’ Connected speech ‘Nice ‘t meetchyuu’
Native speakers do this all the time and that’s what makes it difficult to understand them sometimes. Once you’ve mastered connected speech, you’ll find it easier to understand other people too! First of all, if your English is not very good, start by learning English vocabulary words.
The more you listen to native speakers talk and imitate their pronunciation and intonation, the easier it’ll be for you to speak English like a native, without having an accent adversely affecting what you’re saying. If you’re doing that already, then maybe stick with the accent you have!
What can I learn on the Business English course?
On the GlobalExam Business English course you’ll learn the English language necessary for the business environment. The course deals with many different situations dealing with real business situations and includes videos of native speakers to listen to so you can work on your accent too. There are transcriptions so that you can follow along and related activities to ensure you can learn and use the same phrases yourself. We help you improve your written English as well.
There are all kinds of scenarios covered on the course such as meetings, telephone calls, business correspondence, management interactions and intercultural issues.
Vocabulary and phrases related to business trips, recruitment, sales and negotiations are also covered on the course. If you’re following career paths such as marketing, customer services, human resources, purchasing, tourism, banking or logistics then there are courses that will interest you and there is also the opportunity to make an English resume (CV).
Candidates can take a level test to see whether they should start at beginner, intermediate or advanced level. All participants will receive a certificate of completion after finishing the course. So, if you’d like to get started, sign up to the Business English course today!