Usually, detectable by native speakers of a particular language, an accent can make you sound alien and create barriers in comprehension. It is usually detected when a non-native speaker speaks a language containing sounds that are not part of the phonetic categories used in their native language. So, if you are looking for ways to lose your accent in a foreign language, the following 10 steps will prove to be of great help to you.
1. Don’t let orthography confuse you
A very unconscious yet prevalent way of internalizing the accent that you have is to lay a lot of focus in the written system of a particular language, especially for words that appear to be common between your native tongue and the foreign language. Try writing down the new vocabulary you learn by their sounds. For instance, you can write Pizza by its sound as “piːtsə”, or whichever way that reminds you with the correct pronunciation. You need to keep a vigilant mind and not to depend on trying to pronounce your words basing them on the language’s orthography.
2. Learn the IPA
IPA, also known as the International Phonetic Alphabet, is a system of symbols used to illustrate the sounds of a particular language. This allows the IPA to be the most efficient way of representing sounds in any spoken language. Learning the IPA is a great way of losing your accent.
3. Do not add non-existent sounds
There are certain restrictions, which are common to every language, with relation to sounds that cannot co-occur or might not occur in a particular order. It is important to know and remain aware of these extra sounds and practise not to use them while speaking the foreign language.
4. Prosody is very important
Prosody is the rhythm and pitch that a particular language follows on the sentence or phrase level. They are the sound intonations that a language follows, and needs to be something that you perfect by listening to the foreign language in a diligent manner.
5. Environments are also responsible for changing certain sounds
Also known as allophones, certain words or alphabets in a language sound different depending on the position they enjoy in a certain word. While speaking a foreign language you must be aware of these allophonic specificities, as it will help you to pronounce a word just how it was intended to be.
6. Pitch is very important
It is important and interesting to note that most spoken languages are situated differently across the pitch range of a human’s voice. While some like Spanish are spoken at a lower pitch, others like American English tend to be situated higher. Knowing these pitch differences will help you sound more native and will make your accent fade away.
7. Let your brain work its magic
Our brains are extremely well equipped to recognize patterns, process linguistic data and extrapolate rules concerning the language, without letting you become conscious of the fact. It is through this very technique that children are capable of learning the basics of a particular language without even having to be well-versed with how it works. Therefore, allow your brain to feast on data relating to a foreign language with the help of podcasts, radio, TV, foreign movies etc. and see how it works its magic.
8. Make use of Forvo
Forvo is a brilliant database, which contains the correct pronunciations of many different dialects and languages. Make use of an exemplary resource like this.
9. Practice using monologues and the mirror technique
In order to better equip yourself in a foreign language and lose that accent, make sure that you practice speaking monologues with yourself, or do the same in front of a mirror. You can also choose to repeat certain lines from a podcast, speak and record it yourself, thereby being able to compare the original pronunciation with the one you spoke and correcting yourself in places where you seem to be deviating.
10. Have a realistic approach
At the end of the day, it is important to have a realistic approach towards the goal of losing your accent. It must be noted that losing an accent is a time-consuming task, which might not always be viable. If you work on your accent till it becomes well-comprehended by native speakers, it would be a great achievement. However, if you really want to excel in that foreign language and sound like a native, then give it the time and effort it needs and never get frustrated.
If you are looking forward to losing your accent, these 10 steps would definitely help you in your journey.
With all said and done good luck towards your journey of mastering that foreign language to perfection.