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 ?
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?
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.
Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 03-Aug-2012 at 15:30.
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.