In this guide, we’ll dive into the different methods of listening and how to improve your English accent. English is currently the most studied language in the world, with an estimated 1 billion people learning it.
Because English is the international language of business, that number is only expected to grow.
If you’re working to perfect your English skills, then you know how hard it is to learn the American English accent. You might use proper grammar and sentence structure, but still have a hard time being understood due to your accent.
This is not to say that having a foreign accent is “bad.” Amy Chua once said:
“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.”
The difficulty comes however, in the pronunciation of certain English words. For example, “tomb,” “bomb,” and “comb” are all pronounced differently. Without the proper accent, these words will not be understood.
While using the proper accent is not an easy task, there is a secret for how to improve your English accent faster: listening.
How to Improve Your English Accent
Listen to Native Speakers
Native speakers are your greatest resource to learn the American English accent. By listening to native speakers you will learn the vernacular, or the common language and slang that people use on a daily basis.
Fortunately, technology has made this incredibly easy. There are countless podcasts, movies, songs, and videos available for you to use.
One of the hardest parts of learning a new language is finding the time. Listening to music is an excellent solution because it’s so accessible – you can easily play music as you go about your day.
Music is also written for native speakers, so it’s full of common words and phrases. Songs easily get stuck in your head, so the phrases will play over and over, helping you learn them.
Similar to music, podcasts are very helpful to learn the American English accent. You can listen to podcasts while driving, working, cleaning, etc. There are podcasts that deal specifically with English pronunciation, but there are also many others on a range of interesting topics.
Find one you’re interested in and play it throughout the day. This naturally conditions your brain to pick up the pronunciations of various words and tones.
YouTube is a great help since there are many educational videos aimed specifically at English pronunciation. For some extra practice as you watch, pay attention to how the speaker moves their mouth when they speak. Mimic what you see to learn to better pronounce certain words.
Movies are another fun way to work on your accent. Not only are they entertaining, but the characters are put in a variety of situations, allowing you to take note of inflections, speaking at various speeds, and conversations.
Bonus tip: turning on the subtitles will reinforce what you’re hearing and help facilitate your learning!
Listen to Yourself
So we know that listening is the key for how to improve your English accent, but this goes beyond just listening to others. Once you’ve become more comfortable with English, you should also listen to yourself. It sounds intimidating – we know!
Most people are not fond of their own voice, but listening to yourself and making note of where you can refine your accent will really speed up your learning progress.
One of the best ways to do this is to record yourself using a computer or cellphone. Try recording yourself as you read a paragraph out loud. Poetry is great for this exercise because of the natural rhythm that comes when reading it.
If you don’t know how to read in English yet, record yourself having a practice conversation with a friend or family member. As you play back the recording, make note of the individual words and phrases that need additional practice.
To take it a step further, if you chose to read a passage from a book, look for an audio recording of that book. Then, listen to the native speaker read that same passage. This will help you really hear the difference and specifically show you which words need more attention.
Bonus tip: stay motivated by recording yourself each week, reading the same paragraph, to notice your improvement over time.
Listen to Feedback
Practicing on your own is a great way to polish your accent. However, if you really want to know how to improve your English accent, getting feedback from a tutor is crucial. An English tutor can listen to the way you speak and comment on areas that need more attention.
An English instructor can show you how to retrain the muscles of your lips, tongue, and mouth. It can be difficult to move your muscles in a way that is different from your native language, but an instructor will show you how to physically modify your movements.
Additionally, you can mimic and impersonate the way they speak. TakeLessons has many English instructors who are native speakers that can help you quickly learn the American English accent.
Learning a new language is a great endeavor. It opens up a world of opportunities from travel, to careers, to new friendships. It can be challenging, but remember to relax and take your time with it.
Daily practice is necessary to truly see improvement, and with consistency you will be amazed at how far you’ve come. Language learning is supposed to be enjoyable and hopefully these tips have shown you how to improve your English accent in a fun way!