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Learn Spoken English - ESL Pronunciation & Grammar

    

English: Should You Lose The Accent?   by A Nutt


When learning English as a second language, many students feel that they have failed if they don`t speak it flawlessly and without an accent. The simple truth is, however, that the majority of ESL students will not be able to completely get rid of their accent in English without many years of hard work. If you are able to speak clearly and have others understand you, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an accent.

What It's Important

Being able to speak like a native doesn`t necessarily mean that you`ll be accent free. In fact, your accent could be just what you need to set your voice apart from millions of others. But there are a few things that you do need to know if you are serious about speaking the language well.

Avoid common mispronunciations. This varies depending on your mother tongue, but most people have some set pronunciations that can cause problems in English. For example, most adult Asians pronounce the letter "r" as "l". Spanish speakers will usually say "b" for the letter "v". If you know what your particular mispronunciations are, you can be conscious of them and make a real effort not to say these sounds wrong. This will make your English far more understandable. Children will have less of a problem with this than adults.

Enunciate. In your rush to speak English like a native, you may try to speed up, but this can make it hard for people to understand you. Slow down a little and make sure you say each word clearly and there will be far less chance of misunderstanding. You can practice your enunciation, as well. This doesn`t mean that you need to get rid of your accent, only that you need to speak clearly so everyone will understand what you have said . . . this is something that many native English speakers also have problems with. Increase your vocabulary. It`s far easier to express yourself if you know what words to use. This basically means you need to do a lot of studying and reading. Watching movies and television shows in

English can also help with building vocabulary, as well as improving your accent. Speaking with others is another method of learning new words, as long as you are with someone you feel comfortable asking the definition from. Otherwise, get in the practice of carrying a small pocket dictionary with you.

Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the better you`ll get at speaking English. That means striking up conversations with strangers, calling up friends on the phone to speak English (phones can be difficult, but are excellent practice for speaking clearly), and getting in as much conversation time as possible. Many English students even hire someone to converse with them, but you should be able to find plenty of people who are happy to just have a conversation.

If you really do wish to reduce your accent, then there are specialists who help people with this. A speech therapist will be able to help you move your mouth differently than you are accustomed to and help you correct the more common pronunciation problems so that you will be able to speak more like a native speaker.

Speaking English well takes time and practice. There`s no instant method for picking up a new language perfectly and while you may want to work on speaking more like a native, it isn`t necessary. In fact, you may find that many people enjoy listening to an accent, as long as you are able to speak clearly and be understood.


About the Author

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