Reducing Your Accent Scientifically

My knowledge of other languages has helped me create specialized courses for different language speakers

Explaining things in simple terms

I love languages. I’m constantly studying them and learning about them. Studying other languages helps me teach my students better because I can explain things to them in simple terms that they are familiar with. Often I know something about their language’s phonology too. When I use that to explain, my students learn more quickly because they already have a frame of reference.

Example 1: Teaching by analogy

To teach students, I often use examples from students’ own languages to teach them how English sounds work similarly or differently. Russian students typically have trouble with English L, pronouncing it either too hard (deep in the throat), or too lightly (as if followed by a y). This is the Russian accent’s most noticeable feature.

English has two types of L depending where in the syllable it appears

Example 2: Adapting to constraints

Accent reduction can’t be rushed. However, sometimes adaptability is key. Recently, a new Japanese student told me she needed help pronouncing the English syllable-final dark L sound for an oral exam next week. Giving her an accent diagnosis, I quickly realized she wasn’t even able to do the normal L sound, instead pronouncing all her L’s like R’s. Teaching her the dark L sound in a mere 45 minutes would be quite unlikely.

Virtual backgrounds help me illustrate scientific concepts necessary in accent reduction & modification

Example 3: Patience and guidance

Sometimes, students’ native languages completely lack a sound, and I have to give students specific instructions to guide their mouth and tongue muscles to produce it.

Why language coaching helps

Getting a more native accent is not easy. An accent is simply pronouncing the sounds of your target language with the sounds of your native language. This can happen because you can hear the difference but aren’t able to correctly produce the sounds, or because you can’t even hear the difference and therefore learned it incorrectly. Furthermore, native speakers are often too nice to correct your pronunciation, and teachers usually only teach you enough for you to understand and be understood. Because of this, it can be difficult to improve your accent without a coach.

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Adrian Lin

Adrian Lin

Linguist • accent coach • instructional designer | accentamazing.com