5 Steps to Improve Your Accent and Spoken English

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Where do I start?“
A question I get asked often by people who are looking to improve their accent and spoken English. 

While improving your accent may seem unattainable and overwhelming at first, 
the five steps I share with you in this episode are going to break it down in a simple and clear way, for when you are ready to take your English to the next level. 

Watch: 5 Steps to Improve Your Accent and spoken English

Also, if you want to dive deep and learn even more, I’m hosting a FREE masterclass called “The 5 secrets to Speaking English Like a Natural” where you’ll get more strategies and tips to become a confident speaker in English! Here’s a link to join the webinar.

After watching the video, here are three things you can do to get you started:
1. As you listen to English this week, try to detect sounds that you haven’t paid attention to before.
2. Choose one sound that you struggle with and practice it in words, phrases, and sentences.
3. Record yourself speaking freely while using intentionally the sound you’ve practiced.

Leave me a comment if you have any other questions about accent training!

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Hey, it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way.

Today I’m going to tell you what are the things that you have to do

if you’re looking to improve your accent and clarity in English.

Now a lot of people think that improving your accent is dealing with

‘luxury problems’ and that you have to start working on your accent and pronunciation

when your English is good enough.

Now I don’t believe this is true.

I think an accent is one of the core elements of spoken English

and it should be taught from day one.

An accent is as one of my smart students defined once

the performance of English. It’s basically how you take everything

you know about English and your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary

and the intuition that you’ve developed along the years

and you turn it into spoken English. How you execute everything.

And it’s important to work on your accent because this is actually how you hear yourself

and how you perceive yourself as a

speaker of English.

So the first thing you need to work on is your perception or your listening skill.

You need to start identifying the differences between the sounds that exist in your native tongue

and the sounds of English

and also, you need to start hearing the difference

between the different sounds in English

even if the differences are very very subtle.

Because if you can’t hear it, you can’t make it.

So first you have to recognize it

Our brain filters out so much information and a lot of the information that it filters out

is not necessary because it doesn’t exist in your native tongue.

But it’s essential in English because sometimes that’s the difference between one word and another

So let’s put it to test. Can you hear the difference between

‘thanks’ and ‘tanks’.

Thanks

tanks

thanks – TH, TH.

tanks T,T.

What about ‘reach’ and ‘rich’.

reach-rich.

So the first one is the tense E

and the second one is the relaxed I.

So maybe you can hear it but.

So maybe you can hear it now when I do it slowly in isolation.

But do you notice the difference between those vowels

when you listen to people speaking English?

And yes, maybe it’s clear now when I put these two sounds in isolation

But maybe these are things that you don’t notice usually when you hear people speak English

and you’ll have to start noticing it.

because again when you hear it

you can make it.

What about ‘cake’

versus ‘cake’?

It’s a little more challenging, right.

So the first k-sound was a regular k, ‘keɪk’.

The second one was aspirated as you should pronounce it in English.

‘kheɪk’

So it feels like there is a little H right after the K-sound.

Listen again.

Everything else was the same.

Now you may have not noticed it the first time I said it

but now if you listen closely you can totally hear it, right?

‘keɪk’

‘kheɪk’

And I bet you’ll start hearing it all the time around you when you hear people speak.

These are just a few examples of the differences

that you need to start paying attention to when you listen to English.

And you shouldn’t just listen to words as they come at you as just words, right.

as they represented in the dictionary.

No. Words are comprised of consonants and vowels.

And these consonants or vowels may be different than how you think they should be pronounced.

And some syllables are longer and stressed and some are reduced and short, okay.

So you need to think of it as if you’re listening to a new language

that you’ve never heard before

and you’re trying to recognize those all of these new sounds

that you are not familiar with.

The next thing is your pronunciation.

You need to know

how to pronounce the sounds that don’t exist in your native tongue.

These are the sounds

that are going to be a little more challenging for you to pronounce

because you’re not used to them.

And maybe you’re not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce them.

Sounds are consonants, sounds that are stopped or partially stopped

like p, ch, r.

Or vowel sounds that are not interrupted like ei, aa , ee and uw.

Now when it comes to pronunciation there is pretty much one way

you should pronounce the sound and that’s about it.

So it’s very specific, very technical.

Your tongue needs to be here,

your lips need to do that

and your jaw needs to be this open.

And that’s it.

And when you get it right you get it right.

Of course, it has to do with tension

and trying not to let old habits interfere

which is the pronunciation habits that you have from your native tongue.

So we need to take all of that into consideration of course

but the good news is that you always have a clear answer

when it comes to what you need to do

with your mouth when pronouncing a certain sound.

So improving your pronunciation is an important step

when Improving your accent.

The third thing is improving your intonation.

While pronunciation is the building blocks of the language

intonation is how you put it all together.

What you stress what you don’t stress,

the melody of the language the attitude that is conveyed.

Now when we speak English as a second language

we usually use the intonational patterns from our native tongue

that means that either the language can be reduced to a very monotone melody

or it can be very pitchy going up and down

because this is how it is in your native tongue

if you speak a tonal language, for example.

So again, we need to be aware of that

we need to be aware of the differences

between how you play the music in your language and

how you play the music in English because

your message can be compromised if you’re stressing too many words

or if you’re stressing the wrong words

because that’s how you do it in your native tongue.

Intonation is also the rhythm of the language the internal feel.

The long versus short,

the times where you go fast and when you slow down.

So all of these things are really important when you’re speaking

and help you to convey strong message

Now if you’re looking to improve your intonation even more

I will put the links to the videos where I teach intonation right below

in the description.

The next thing is effective practice.

It’s one thing to learn it and to understand it

and be able to pronounce it clearly

or to get the right melody

It’s another thing to make it your own to turn it into a habit

to overcome the old pronounciation habits

or old intonational habits

and actually start using it in real life without thinking about it.

because when you’re practicing

you want to develop muscle memory.

And one more thing, when you practice you train the muscles

Your muscles need to be in good shape

just like when you workout or when you play an instrument.

You’ve got to practice every single day

to get the right muscle tone

to be able to round your lips really tight for the U-sound or for the R.

And to be able to shift from the S to the TH,

this tricky transition, really quickly.

So your tongue needs to be fast and quick and in control.

The only way to do it is with effective practice,

drilling the words in a certain way

and then applying it in words phrases and sentences.

Now look this is not hard work.

It’s not something that you have to do every day for 5 hours a day.

No! You can invest only 15 or 20 minutes a day

but it has to be effective and you have to see results.

So if you’ve been practicing for a while and you’re still not happy with the result

then maybe your practice was not effective enough.

Maybe you were practicing wrong,

maybe you were repeating the same mistakes

and ultimately just wasting time.

So this is why accurate practice,

an effective practice is another key component

in improving your accent and clarity.

The last thing you want to take into consideration

when improving your accent is

whatever your practicing is not going to show up immediately in conversation,

okay.

and that’s totally natural.

The idea is that you develop the muscle memory

until your tongue remembers the right placement

and you start working on the intonation

until your body feels it and you start using it without thinking about it.

Right. So there is a lot of room for Intuition

and there’s a lot of room for just the work to show up as you speak.

So but that takes time.

But what you could do in order to integrate everything that you’re learning

into your day-to-day speech

is to start having those conscious conversations.

Conversations that are not too demanding.

So it shouldn’t be a job interview or an important meeting

but a conversation where you can start thinking

or being very aware of the sounds that you’re currently practicing.

So, for example, if you’re practicing your sheep-ship vowel pair, okay

and you’re trying to make that distinction

and you’ve been drilling the sounds

and you’ve been reading a lot of sentences,

analyzing texts and doing all of the work.

So you might want to start using it more consciously when you speak.

Now ultimately if you do the work and if you practice

it will show up, it will, believe me!

I’ve done it and did the work I practice

and now I don’t think about the sounds when I speak.

Okay, so I’m telling you from my own experience.

But if you want to expedite the process

then start using these sounds consciously when you speak

and that way first you create a lot of awareness

and second you really start using it on a day-to-day basis

and when you hear yourself using it and you become confident about it

then it gives you also the confidence to keep on doing it

and to improve.

And that’s what we’re looking for!

Progress, not perfection!

So these were the 5 things

that you need to start doing in order to improve

your clarity and your accent.

And If you haven’t started thinking about it,

about improving your accent

maybe you should

because you will be surprised that it opens doors.

It opens your English door.

It opens the channel of free communication and fluency.

Now if you like this video I have more to share with you

I have a brand new master class

coming up in just a few days that I think you won’t want to miss.

The name of this master class is

“The 5 secrets to speaking English like a natural.”

And I’m going to take everything that I talked about here

and dive even deeper

and we’re even gonna have time for a live Q&A at the end.

So if you want to join me and I really hope you do

go to my website

Show Episode Transcript

4 Comments on “5 Steps to Improve Your Accent and Spoken English”

  1. Dear Hadar ! First, thank you so much for your efforts.
    Of course, I enjoyed your video. Thank you so much for it. I’m sure you are the reincarnation of one of the World Greatest Magicians had been living in far ancient time particularly in the East.

    Of course, I have a lot of problems with my accent in English (and in other foreign languages, too.) You understand, that for me as a once international scientist the English has been of primary significance. At the more than one dozen international scientific meetings I delivered lectures in English. I got inspired to polish up my spoken English. However, I experienced that the more I tried to use neutral accent the more the larger part of audience could follow me. Of course, a large proportion of audience came from not an English speaking country. They sometime spoke a better English than me (e.g. Germans) but used pretty neutral English accent. Those days I reached the conclusion that the birth of a new English became imminent which everyone will understand. Later I realized that it was an illusion. Technical language alone is not sufficient for communication. (This revelation came from the many books in English I have read.)
    Nevertheless I hoped at least a common neutral accent might be born. Perhaps this would make
    impoverished the music of the languages. Such an act would be really barbarous which I would reject.

    It seems the solution will be to adopt at least one definite accent as perfectly as possible.
    If I understand well, that might be one of your proposals. Thank you for that you considered to involve me – together with all my personal medical handicaps.
    With the best wishes,
    Laszlo

  2. Thank you for your advice, It makes me confident in accent and pronunciation.The pronounce of “v” is difficult too.

    Thank you again and I look forward to practice more and more.

    Sincerely,
    Soontaree

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