Do you speak English with confidence? Perhaps your lack of confidence in American English has more of an effect on your life than you would like. Can you relate to any of these scenarios? “To avoid misunderstandings, I rely on English-speaking friends or family members to communicate for me.” “I have a thick accent, so...
Do you speak English with confidence?
Perhaps your lack of confidence in American English has more of an effect on your life than you would like. Can you relate to any of these scenarios?
“To avoid misunderstandings, I rely on English-speaking friends or family members to communicate for me.”
“I have a thick accent, so I try to avoid phone calls with American English speakers.”
“I’m scared to speak up in meetings with American English speakers.”
“I don’t feel comfortable speaking American English.”
If you saw yourself in any of those lines, don’t despair. The three tips listed below will help you find your voice while speaking English with an American accent. But first, let’s examine why you should set the goal of speaking American English with confidence.
How to learn an American accent
You may not know how to learn an American accent at first. But the theory is simple. We can sum it up in two words: habit formation.
Psychology Today describes habit formation as “the process by which behaviors become automatic.” Our speech patterns become some of our most automatic and deeply ingrained habits.
It wasn’t always this way. Have you ever noticed a baby learning to talk? They start with baby talk. Their first words come out only after observing and mimicking their parents’ mouth movements and sounds.
We all started that way. This was where our language habits began.
That’s great news! How so? If we were able to form our speech habits as infants, with proper USA Accent training, we can also replace them with the mouth movements used for an American accent. If a baby can do it, you can too!
How will speaking with confidence help me?
Don’t let people speak for you. Speak for yourself! You want to reach people and goals that may seem unreachable. Mastering the American English accent can help you reach new heights.
Use your voice to break through that next career barrier. Learning to speak American English confidently and fluently can open the door to endless opportunities. But how is accent training done?
1- Learn the American Accent
You have probably been working on your American accent for some time. Maybe you have tried listening to podcasts and watching videos. However, most people find it difficult to achieve significant improvement on their own. It’s not until they consult with an accent tutor that they see real progress. Why?
According to New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon, “The only way to find your voice is to use it.” Accent reduction classes provide a safe space for many to use their voice freely, discuss accent-related concerns, practice speaking, and receive specific feedback and tailored techniques that will allow them to succeed.
(Getting help to improve your American Accent using accent reduction classes is featured alongside 4 other important tips in the following article: “How Can I Improve My American Accent”)
2- Be patient as you reduce your accent
Can you change your accent and be comfortable with it? That’s a good question. Many people struggle with the idea of adopting a different accent. Yet, a new accent can become a reality with persistence and consistency in doing things that work. But you must be patient and remember not to be too hard on yourself. Be positive and enjoy every personal victory towards meeting your goal of mastering the American accent.
You may go through stages like the following:
- You understand English but have trouble expressing yourself well.
- You start recognizing American English speech patterns but can’t produce them yet.
- With precise and accurate accent correction, you become more aware of how your native accent is different from the American accent.
- Like learning to ride a bike, awareness and muscle memory kick in.
- As you develop more confidence, you use American English more, choosing American speech patterns and phrases.
- After many repetitions, you retain these new speech habits. Now you have found your American English voice!
Be patient and consistent, and celebrate every milestone that you cross.
3- Get comfortable with your American Accent
As you begin to lose your accent, you may feel physically exhausted after speaking for several hours with your American accent. This is completely normal. Like learning a new exercise, it takes extra thought and effort – at first. However, with consistent practice, it will become effortless. There is a way to speed up the process, though.
As you learn the American accent, you will adopt many new muscle movements needed to produce the target speech sounds. Because this is all new to you, you might be exaggerating the motions a little. Exaggeration is great for practice. But, it all adds up. Since speaking is something we do a lot, these minor exaggerations can lead to fatigue. The key is to find the path of least resistance without compromising the sound.
Now’s the time to pull out the mirror or camera and watch yourself as you speak English. Try to compare what you see with someone who speaks with a neutral American accent, e.g., your favorite news anchor. Observe areas where you might reduce the movement to speak more naturally.
Play around with your facial expressions and other movements to make certain sounds. This could include your tongue, lips, diaphragm, etc. Think about a successful ventriloquist. They can articulate clear speech without even moving their lips at all! That takes an extreme level of skill. But you can do the same thing to a lesser extent. Look for a more comfortable way to pronounce those sounds correctly without that extra effort.
Another helpful tip is to record yourself speaking American English and make needed adjustments. As a word of caution, this would not be useful if you are unsure about the correct sounds. In addition to hundreds of effective audio recordings, a dialect coach at Accent Advisor can guide you through the process with specific feedback.
In conclusion, speaking American English with confidence is not as far off as you think. Keep speaking and using the tips above, and you may just find the confidence you need to become the best speaker you can be.