English Pronunciation: Can I Change the Way I Speak?
Video on Learning Pronunciation
Common Student Questions about Pronunciation
1) Can I really change my pronunciation?
2) Since I have been in the U.S. for several years, how can I change the way I speak?
3) How can I remember to change my pronunciation when I am in the middle of a conversation?
4) If I can reduce my accent, how long will it take?
Answer to the Questions
1) Yes, you can really change your pronunciation. I know this because I have heard students make important changes in their speeches. Students who practice regularly do tell me that friends and coworkers hear the difference. By studying English pronunciation, you will better understand American English sounds.
2) If you have been in the U.S. for a while, you have created some habits in the way you speak. You can change those habits by creating new habits. I recommend students practice their pronunciation for 20 minutes a day as often as possible. You also have to be patient. You created your old habits over a long period of time. Now, give yourself time to practice one sound a day for as long as you need.
3) You won‘t remember to change your pronunciation when you talk to people at first. That is why you want to practice on your own for 20 minutes a day. If you do this for a while, then you will naturally begin to think about and apply sound changes when speaking to other people. Don’t try too hard to do this. It will start to happen with time.
4) How long will it take? Everyone is different. Some people have heavy accents caused by one or more letters being incorrect. Other people have light accents and only need intonation or syllable stress practice. Sound is physical–it is all about the parts of the mouth being in the correct position–so even if you have a heavy accent, you can change those sounds. Be realistic. If you know you have trouble communicating with most people, plan to practice for 6 months, then evaluate your progress, and continue if needed. If you know you are easily understood by people who know you but not by strangers, give yourself 3-4 months of daily practice. If you are just polishing your fluency, you may need even less time.
Just remember: though it can seem challenging, your pronunciation depends on these things: your breath, your jaw, your lips, your tongue, and your ears–your ability to hear the sounds of spoken American English. You really can change the way you speak!
Study the pronunciation of English to lessen your accent or to become fluent and sound American. The sounds of vowels are important to American English, especially the pronunciation of A sounds. Learn pronunciation with the English words that are common. Discover all the pages with free videos and tests with free English online. Read student comments on learning the American accent and other language skills.