Improve your foreign language accent
As an example, if you were not born in an English speaking country or if you were not raised in an English speaking environment, there is no doubt that you have a more or less accent when you speak English. If you learned English as a second language as a teenager or as an adult, your first language accent will have an overlapping effect on the English pronunciation. That is a fact and it happens in any language, so let’s face it as it is.
Whenever learning a new language, you will need to perform well in the four basic core foundations of any language:
Depending on your efforts and opportunities, you might have a good grammar, you might be able to read, and even write correctly. However, you must remember that these activities are mainly held in silence when you are alone.
But what if you need to speak out in that foreign language, how would you feel about it? Would you be able to get your message across? Would people be able to engage in a conversation? Would you understand what people are saying to you? Would they understand what you are saying?
Having an accent when speaking any new foreign language is not a problem at all. The problem appears when the accent is so strong that impairs the communication, and becomes a barrier for you to be understood.
Neuroscience has brought unprecedent valuable insights to the field of language learning abilities, and knowing how the brain is wired for learning is crucial before anything else. We must know these information in order for us to make the most efficient approach in learning anything at all.
Knowing which type of learner you are, let’s take a closer look on how a child learns to speak. Without digging into many details, let’s make is simple for a better understanding, and for a practical purpose of this subject.
Speaking ability requires time to be developed and, in general, babies begin verbal communication before they are one year-old. As soon as the parents recognize any sound intended to communicate coming from their babies, they explode of joy!!! To be honest here, sometimes only the parents actually understand what the baby/toddler is saying, but that is ok (if you have a child, you know what I am talking about … it is just wonderful!).
Depending on the child, around 18-30 months the toddlers’ verbal communication begin to improve drastically, since their brains are actively growing, and making new associations. Suddenly, they are speaking everything, being able to make themselves understood by their surroundings.
Only when they enter school (kindergarten) when they are around five/six years-old, they will start to learn how to read and to write. And from here on, it’s a long stretch, and a lot of work (and patient from their parents).
Putting it simple: people (including you and I) can learn a different language even without being able to read or write it!! Of course grown-ups are more condescending with the language mistakes a child does, but very critical when the same mistake is made by someone who should know better.
In few words here: learning how to speak English with the correct pronunciation requires time and effort!!!
Shortcuts to learning a new foreign language
I find it very interesting those books that you can buy at any bookstore that promise to teach you how to speak a foreign language using pre-set phrases or “learn to speak xyz in 5 minutes a day”.
Desperate situations require desperate measures, right? In the case of language, if you answered yes, you would be absolutely wrong.
OK, you bought the book, so let me ask you these two simple questions here:
- Do you know how to pronounce the words properly?
- If the person answered your question, would you be able to understand what he/she said back to you?
If you answered no to either of the above questions, forget about these shortcuts.
Are they helpful? I would argue that they are, not properly for communicating what you want, but to learn a few words in the other’s people language, showing your appreciation for their culture. You will be acting politely in this is already a good habit. This has a huge impact on the good willing of them wanting to help you out if you need something (and you probably will need their help).
We have to be clear here: there is no magic bullet or pill that you take and bingo … you can improve your English communication skills, and start speaking fluently. If anyone promises an easy way around, don’t believe it because it just doesn’t exist. I wish there was, but there isn’t.
“Should” won’t do the job!
Now that we are clear that there are no shortcuts to improve your vocabulary and your accent in English (or Spanish or any other language you want to learn) and you also know how your brain is wired for learning, there is one more thing that will have a huge effect over your language learning goal: how will you approach this goal?
The way you perceive this challenge will determine if you will do what it takes to improve your English accent (and vocabulary as well) or not. Yes, it is all up to you!!! That is your blessing, that is your curse!!! It is all in your hands.You might be asking me now: what am I talking about? So let’s get into it …
What I am asking you is simple: is improving your English accent a “should” or a “must” for you?
If your answer is that it is a “should” for you, here is where you stand: your chances of succeeding in achieving your goals are minimum. You might improve a little bit, of course, but you will definitely fall short here.
Now-a-days time is a scarce asset, and prioritizing activities became a very delicate issue. Time is priority … if it is a priority for you, you will find a way to schedule a certain amount of your limited time to include this activity within your day. However, if it is not that important, it will go to the bottom of your to-do list, and will stay there!!
If you think you “should” improve your English (or Spanish or any other language you might think of), it is not a priority for you yet. It is an option that would be great to have, but it is not yet crucial to have it. In this scenario, “should” has no power to push you through the adjustments required in order to be fluent in English, to increase your vocabulary and your English accent yet. It will just no be suffice … it won’t do the job!
If your answer is that it is a “must” for you, here is where you stand: your chances of succeeding in learning English and being able to speak fluently in order to be properly understood, while improving your vocabulary exponentially are extremely high.
Being a “must” for you, you will find time to put into this goal, you will make it happen. It is a priority for you and, even though your time is still limited, you can find ways around to use more efficiently your spare time to improve your language skills. There are many approaches towards this achievement, which are cover on options available on how to learn a new foreign language.
However, despite the fact that there are many different approaches for you to learn a new language, each with it’s pros and cons, there are strategies that can definitely make the chosen approach more efficient, more engaging and that will help keep you motivated in this journey.
How long will it take for you to learn a foreign language from scratch? Of course it depends on the method you’ve chosen, and the time/effort you put into it. You might take several years to become slightly more confident to start speaking with confidence OR it might take you just of few months for you to engage in a normal conversation in that new language.
What makes the difference besides the method and your time/effort input? There is no spells or silver bullet or any shortcuts, but a detailed proven to work strategy used to pursue your goals. Please check one of the most efficient strategies of learning a new foreign language I have ever came across by looking into start speaking from day 1. You will be amazed to know that anyone can learn a new language from zero and engage in a conversation within a very short period of time (only few months, depending on your efforts)
Only if it is a “must” for you, you will go through it, and become, along the way, more efficient in your foreign language verbal communication skills.
Steps to improve your accent in any language
The only way you will be able to reduce your mother’s language accent while improving you English accent (or any other language you are willing to improve) requires effort from your part (lots of it!!) in three major areas, such as:
- Practice (plenty of it)
Among these three requirements to improve you English and reduce your native accent, I can only help you out with the knowledge part, the rest is up to you. But don’t worry, there are some hints very helpful in these areas. In general, most language courses you’ll come across frames the learning curve starting with grammar.
Don’t get me wrong: grammar is very important, but is it the best way to start to learn a new foreign language? I highly doubt it, but you could argue that this is just my opinion. In this case, I would have to say that you are wrong (don’t be mad at me!). Developmental biology states that you are wrong as well. Quick question here: when a child is starting to learn to speak, do they start with grammar? We’ll discuss this into more details another time, and I will present you with scientific info supporting this statement.
Despite the approach you choose to learn any new language, the first thing you need is a STRATEGY, and ask you the question: how am I going to do this? Having a grammar on your side is just a part of this puzzle. You need a blueprint, you need a plan on how to make the most out of the language learning approach you’ve chosen. For more details related to this subject, please read Start speaking from day 1.
Once you have the knowledge, you will have to get outside your comfort zone which is, at first, very unpleasant. Yes, there will have to be some changes in your routine to adjust your schedule to fit this new “activity”.
Difficult at first, but extremely rewarding once you start to realize the benefits you are achieving, such as:
- Improvement in your vocabulary, as well as understanding when other people speak English to you;
- Confidence in your verbal communication skills in English;
- English accent improvement along with the reduction of your mothers’ language accent;
You will have to work on it and the more you work, the better you get. It is that simple … you get what you pay (or do) for!