Do people often ask you to repeat yourself? Do you feel like your English communication skills are getting in the way of your professional success? One of the most difficult parts of speaking in a foreign language is mastering all of the subtle differences in pronunciation. While learning vocabulary and grammar from a textbook may be sufficient, mastering the American English accent is a little trickier, and requires more hands-on practice. Take a look at our three tips for improving your American English pronunciation:
Find a practice partner: I find that many of my clients don’t practice their English nearly enough outside of the workplace. Since many of their friends and family share their native language, English becomes something they only use in a professional setting. This can be a huge block to improvement since in the workplace, you are usually concentrating on the content of your message, not improving your accent. Take the opportunity to practice with native English speakers whenever possible. If you can, try to set up a language exchange with someone who wants to learn your native language. Make a weekly coffee date in which you spend half the time speaking English and half the time speaking your native language.
Practice with audio books: Audio books are a great way to fine-tune your pronunciation. Get a hard copy of the book and record yourself reading a passage aloud. Then, listen to the audio version and check your pronunciation. Which words sound different? Are there certain sounds that are consistently off across the passage?
Watch English television shows: Watching TV in English is a great way to get used to hearing different English-speaking voices and accents. Because casual speech is common in television shows, it’s also an excellent way to gain exposure to idioms and slang, which are often difficult to learn to use for non-native speakers. Just make sure to check if an idiom is overly casual or professionally appropriate before using it in the workplace. Ask an English-speaking friend, or even use an on-line message board.
If you think you may benefit from more direct accent reduction or accent modification training, give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!
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