There’s a new trend brewing among America’s newest immigrant arrivals. Lose your accent and blend into the crowd. In other words…sound like an American. Why this recent interest in accent reduction to sound more like a native? It comes as a result of changes in America as we face the Trump era. It’s a time of great worry and uncertainty among large groups of immigrants trying to be one of us, sometimes even to avoid deportation.
That means learning to use vowels and parts of your mouth and tongue in new strange ways, foreign to people of other languages.
But, the question my accent reduction students ask me most often is…how much of my accent can I reduce? Can I get rid of my accent entirely? Can I improve my sound to be better understood for my career, my family and my future? They also inquire: will I lose my identity that is unique to me and the culture I came from, just to satisfy the needs of the native people I meet?
I tell my accent reduction students the following to ease their fears. The hard truth is that the severity of your accent depends on many factors. Difficult to understand accents vary by person and region. Additionally, your ability to reduce your accent is highly dependent on your willingness to work hard to change the way you speak and sound. In other words, are you motivated enough to make a difference?
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that an accent from a foreign country does not mean you will always stand out from the crowd. It does mean you were not born in the USA. That can’t be changed. However, Americans, in general, are a welcoming group. They only become upset when your accent impedes their ability to understand what the heck you are saying. For the most part, Americans are generous, patient people. They know their ancestors endured the same problems you now face, when they arrived on these shores years ago.
Your key duty as a new arrival is to assimilate in every way possible. Most importantly, it means to make a sincere effort to master the language of the country you have chosen – English – and to speak it often both in private and public. The more you speak English well, the faster your speaking transformation will begin.
Finally, get help from a proven professional who can offer guidance and tips for better speech and sound. There is no quick fix; it does take time, but it’s your life and your future.
Speak up and be proud of where you came from. But also welcome the opportunities of your new land by becoming an excellent English-as-a-second-language speaker. It’s your choice and your duty.