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  1. #1
    sharkerr's Avatar
    sharkerr is offline Newbie
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    Accent reduction

    Since it's my first post, first I want to say - hi forum!

    Okey, we're done with formalities :), no lest get down to the point. What do you think about all this accent reduction think ? I suppose generally my spoken English is pretty decent - in terms of fluency, correctness etc. Although I'm perfectly understandable to others, some people point out my semi-strong foreign accent. So I would be pretty happy to soften it up a bit. The problem is I've never been a 'musical' type of person (noticing differences in certain accents, intonation or keeping up with a rhythm of a speech have never been my strong side) so I'm worried it might be tough for me to make any changes :(

    So do you think those accent reduction courses might help me ? How many lessons should I take to see a significant difference ?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Accent reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkerr View Post
    How many lessons should I take to see a significant difference ?
    There is no way to answer this question because we don't know how you sound speaking English and we also don't know whether or not you could benefit from such courses. I will say that it should be possible to learn to speak with a particular accent on your own, especially if you're surrounded by speakers who also speak with that particular accent.

  3. #3
    Esgaleth's Avatar
    Esgaleth is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Accent reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    I will say that it should be possible to learn to speak with a particular accent on your own, especially if you're surrounded by speakers who also speak with that particular accent.
    Just out of curiosity, why do people tend to believe they could master a language just being surrounded by native speakers? It's like if you want to play the violin you should start playing in the orchestra. There maybe people who could develop a skill this way but we usually call them genii... and they often end up doing some formal study.

    I wonder how it could be possible not to benefit from a course, provided it's a real course not a mere swindle. How could a learner 'know' what to 'practise' if they, like sharkerr, can't hear the difference in sounds, intonation, etc? Generally speaking, any course implies a teacher/tutor/trainer who is qualified to offer this kind of help and, in spite of any possible issues, they are doing their best.
    If you think about it, we all like to criticise our education but we sill keep sending our children to school.

    That said, the learner should take certain responsibility as well, which usually means a lot of self-study. So, with a teacher knowing what to pay attention to and a learner ready to spare no effort, why not benefit from the course?

  4. #4
    Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Accent reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by Esgaleth View Post
    Just out of curiosity, why do people tend to believe they could master a language just being surrounded by native speakers? It's like if you want to play the violin you should start playing in the orchestra. There maybe people who could develop a skill this way but we usually call them genii... and they often end up doing some formal study.
    Because the two are not exactly comparable.

    Children learn any accent by being exposed to it. No one tells how to position their tongue, they just pick it up by osmosis.
    In order to learn how to play the violin, or any instrument for that matter, you have to spend a lot of time practicing. Listening to how other people play the violin well, is not enough. It will certainly tell how playing the violion well should sound, but by merely listening to music, you will not master the mechanics of playing the violin.

    Having said that, being surrounded by native speakers is certainly no guarantee that one will pick up the accent by merely being exposed to it. There are so many people who have emigrated to an English-speaking country at a fairly young age, and about 20 years later, they still have a very strong foreign accent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esgaleth View Post
    If you think about it, we all like to criticise our education but we sill keep sending our children to school.
    In some countries you don't have a choice
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 03-Aug-2012 at 16:30.

  5. #5
    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Re: Accent reduction

    Most of the time, when folks talk about 'soften' their accents, they are comparing with fellow country men. To your country men, you appear to have traces of, say, British accent. To the native speakers, you sound intelligible yet foreign accented.

    There are two kinds of skills you need to acquire: theory and practical skills. Theory: phonology (allophones of phonemes), deciphering orthography (fossils) to decipher sounds (species), phonetics. You could have signed up for UCL summer phonetics class taught by Geoff Lindsey ( SCEP ) Practice: here, typical mimicking with some abstract descriptions (like low back vowels, low front, etc) does not get you far--of course, this is the dominant mode in Accent reduction circles (Call it Edith Skinner's mode). The alternative is: develop kinesthetic skills (call it Knight Thompson speech workout). The latter is taught in many acting schools in the states.

    Depends on your affordability, trying out a one-on-one accent coach in UK (I presume you are there) helps you out. At least, it tells you where to start after those 10 sessions. Think it as an iterative approach. You are not gonna get every skill you need from 10 or even 20 sessions. The best way to learn anything is to frame your concerns as well defined questions (problems). And do your own research to get your answers.

    Read Geoff Lindsey's material on his website for contemporary British English for EFL folks. ( English Speech Services - Home ). If you can afford his services, try it; otherwise, read his stuff.

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