Your accent is the result of speech patterns you learned growing up usingyour native language, however, very few of these patterns are interchangeable – especially if the language you’re currently practicing belongs to a different group. You’ll quickly become aware of just how many inflections, intonations, rhythms, phonemes, and pronunciations you are using for the very first time.
Your brain is very clever, and when the brain encounters a blank space – it will colour it in with what is familiar. Accents arise from your brain naturally compensating for a sound or group of sounds it has never accessed before with a similar sound from your native language. People have the most difficulty when they rely too heavily on this process; it’s challenging to resist the patterns that are most recognizable to you, however not doing so makes it difficult to advance. Especially adults who’ve been using their native language for the majority of their lives no longer have the same malleability their children might. To reduce an existing accent takes long, conscious, and consistent practise.
It is particularly discouraging when through no fault of your own, your accent hinders communication. It might make you feel shy to practise the new language. Or, if you’ve been using the second language for some time; you want the improvement in your vocabulary to be matched by improvement in pronunciation as well. There is coaching out there that can help you work with the tools you have, while also showing you where you can make changes; introducing you to new methods to help reduce the thickness of your accent.
Accent reduction is often led by a speech-language pathologist and trains you to become aware of your tendencies and habits while speaking. A speech therapist at a clinic such as Simone Friedman SLS can help you with parts of the language you are finding most difficult. You will spend time focusing on these difficulties, working with your articulators (tongue, lips) to find consistency. Head over to their blog at Simonefriedmansls.com/blog/ to learn more about accent reduction and possible treatment options, but remember that part of accent reduction includes a commitment to practicing the skills you acquire and transferring them to your everyday conversations. A therapist will then act as an anchor and guide, providing you with tools to make communication easier.
It is best to look for an S-LP who has completed additional certification in an accent reduction program such as the Compton P-ESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) Program; they have the clinical experience and you can trust them to deliver the results if you remain dedicated to your training.Don’t allow your accent to obstruct your success. Let this be the last time you pass up an opportunity due to language barriers; let this be the last time someone asks you to repeat yourself when speaking. Regain your confidence, and advance in the language you have chosen to adopt as your own. Contact a speech-language pathologist for a consultation today. It is never too late to make improvements; you will notice just how much smoother, and less laborious conversations will become – allowing you to find freedom in expression, and that is worth a great deal.