Hey, it’s Hadar and this is The Accent’s Way.
Today, I am going to talk to you about how to practice your accent on your own using nothing, but your phone!
And no, I am not talking about a specific application. I am talking about features that exist in everyone’s smartphone.
So, here’s the thing, maybe you’ve been practicing your accent for a while: watching videos, reading books, practicing audio on your computer. But you might be practicing the same sound over and over. But not knowing whether you are doing it right or not, you don’t have someone to give you feedback. To tell you, you’re doing the right thing, or here you need to open your mouth a little more.
Now, dialect coaches are expensive and sometimes hard to come by. So here are two things, you can do starting from right now to help you give yourself, feedback.
So let’s begin.
Before I teach you how to give yourself feedback, first let’s talk about what you need to practice. When you are learning a new sound, the only way to improve is by repetition, is by repeating the same old words, over and over again.
Now, let’s say you are not saying it correctly. Then you are practicing the mistake, you are making the same mistake over and over. And sometimes it’s really hard to hear it or we don’t know what to look for. And again, if we don’t have someone to tell us what to do that can get difficult to impossible.
So, to practice similar words what you could do is to use any voice to text app on your phone. I am going to be using Notes on my iPhone. But, of course, you can use whatever you have, and if you have a smartphone. I’m sure that you can find it.
So, what I am going to do… let’s say that I am having difficulties with saying “leave” versus “live”. Let’s say I say both of them ‘leeve’, right? Which is kind of like the middle sound, between the tense /ee/ and the relaxed /i/.
So I am going to take my phone and record myself saying the word /leave/. Now, I am going to say it with an accent, so I am not going to pronounce it correctly.
Now, since I am trying to say “leave” and it recognized it as “live”, I know that I am mispronouncing it. So now I am going to watch my video on how to pronounce sheep versus ship, and learn what I need to do to pronounce the /ee/ sound.
And I will put more focus on that. For example: I will pull my lips to the side or I will push more forward. And then I am going to try it again.
This time I got it right. And it is not just for comparing difficult words or comparing similar sounds. It’s also great to say full sentences. So for example, you can just speak out your thoughts or practice a conversation that you are going to have. And then detect the words that are different than what you are saying.
These are the words that were mispronounced. Then knowing that these words are not clear, try to figure out why. See if maybe there is an /r/ there and the /r/ wasn’t clear. Maybe the vowel there was not specific, okay?
But this would help you to know what to focus on, which is the most important thing. Cause you can’t just practice everything that is out there. You want to practice only those things, that are very specific for you. And the voice-to-text would really help you discover what those are, if you don’t have anyone around you to tell you that.
The next thing you can do is to just use voice memo. Yes, record yourself. And you are probably saying to yourself: “Uhhh, I hate listening to my voice! I don’t want to record myself. I don’t want to hear myself”. But hey, here is the thing. If you want to improve you gotta know what you are doing wrong in order to improve it. And let me tell you this.
We always sound differently in our heads than we actually sound in real life, okay? And the only way to discover that is by recording yourself and listening to it. And there are two ways to go about it. One, is just record yourself and try to detect the sounds that are less clear, try to pay close attention to what you are saying, and if you have a strong grasp of English you’d feel that a certain word just doesn’t sound right.
Just doesn’t sound the way it sounds in your head. The way you know it should be pronounced. And then focus just on that word, or focus on a few words and see if there is a common denominator. Maybe all of them have an /r/. Maybe all of them end with an /l/. Maybe all of them have one specific vowel. Maybe they are all different but you want to to really explore what is the one thing, that makes this word not clear. Or sound different. And then search for the materials online. You know there is plenty of those.
So record yourself and listen to it. Another way to practice is practice while you are imitating someone. So, let’s say, you can take a TED talk and play the first line, pause it, record yourself imitating it, okay? And then listen to both the original and the recording and try to detect the differences.
When you detect the word the is pronounced differently, because you have, you know, the two options to compare from then you’ll know what is the word that you are saying unclearly, and what you need to focus on. Okay, you can also practice, practice sheets. Like the one I give out in some of my videos.
For example, the /o/ as in go. So there is a list of words you can repeat the words while recording me and yourself. And then see if the pronunciation is the same. If it is, kudos to you! You are doing great. And keep on practicing, just to develop muscle memory.
If it feels differently, then record yourself over and over and say it over and over. Change something small every time, until you feel that it’s coming closer and the pronunciation is the same.
So, to summarize, in order to give yourself accurate feedback when you are practicing pronunciation. You can do two things. The first things is use any voice to text feature and then record yourself. And look at the script. And then see if it matches what you said, and if not then focus on the words that are different, or the sounds that are different.
Or you can record yourself and listen to it and see if it is different than the way it sounds in your head, or the way other people say it. And when you discover the one sound that you are saying differently or that you need to practice.
Practice it over and over again until you have developed muscle memory, and then that is the only way to improve. I actually have two more tips for you on how to practice on your own on top of these two.
So if you want a reminder of what I was talking about and get the two new tips go to my website and download the freebie for this episode. And practice, and practice, and practice because practice makes perfect.
Okay, that’s it.