How Long Will It Take To Reduce My Accent?

Most people born outside of the United States will never sound like a native born American English speaker, but you can make changes to your current speech that will enable Americans to understand you.

Everyone is capable of learning new sounds and patterns that will make their speech more comprehensible.

Using these new sounds patterns will make speaking English much more enjoyable for you and for your listeners!

How long it takes to improve your accent depends on a few variables. These include:

1. Your understanding of how your native language affects your accent when you speak English

There are some universal pronunciation problems that people from almost all languages have when they are speaking American English. These include the voiced th sound, consonant clusters as well as vowel lengthening and pitch.

The speech patterns that you habitually use from your native language will also contribute to your accent. Once you understand what your specific pronunciation errors are you can focus on these. This will help you study more efficiently! An accent coach can tell you which sounds and patterns from your native language are contributing to your accent when you speak English.

2. Your listening skills

In order to pronounce the sounds and patterns of American English correctly you need to be able to hear them accurately. This is not as easy as it sounds.

As very young children our ability to discriminate a wide variety of sounds is good. However, this skill diminishes very early in our development and as we age we lose the natural ability to discriminate between sounds not found in our native language. Accent reduction classes will teach you how to listen for new sounds using auditory discrimination exercises.

Most people who take accent reduction courses begin to hear new sounds after the first session. Pronouncing these new sounds can take time, but with focused and consistent practice, you will get it!

3. Time you spend practicing in a focused and efficient way

Once you understand what sounds and patterns from your native language are contributing to your “foreign accent” you need to find resources you can use use to improve these. Resources may include books with CDs, online lessons, accent reduction classes or coaching.

Many people choose to work with an accent reduction coach. Working with a coach may cost more than other books or group classes but the personal feedback and attention that you get from an accent reduction coach is very valuable and will probably save you time and money in the long run.

Whatever method of learning you choose, you must practice five times a week, just like you would if you were training for an athletic event or learning to play the piano.

In order to reduce your accent you must learn to move your mouth, tongue and lips in new ways. This will feel uncomfortable at first but in order to reduce your accent  you need to learn to articulate new (American English) sounds and patterns.

Daily practice will help your mouth and tongue develop the new “muscle memory” they need for you to articulate American English sounds correctly.  You simply must practice a sound  or pattern over and over for it to  become unconscious!

Most people see progress in 6-8 weeks. But this takes lots of  focused practice and dedication. In my practice I have found that people who take accent reduction classes or coaching sessions are highly motivated and goal oriented and they are willing to practice daily.

Remember, there is nothing inherently wrong with speaking American English with an accent. You accent is part of your identity and it makes you sound unique. However,  if your accent is so strong that it causes listeners to struggle to understand you, this is a problem that you need to address.

One thing that you can do right away is to join an Accent Reduction Class.

This type of course will teach you to use the most important American English sounds and patterns. Accent Reduction Classes are an excellent and affordable way unlock the secrets to speaking American English more clearly.

My online class, Unlock Your American Accent: 5 Secret Keys to Communication Success will help you do that!

Once you take a class….. the next step is to work with an accent reduction coach to get specific feedback on your progress and refine your skills.