Are you a foreign English speaker?
So am I!
My name is Robby, and I’ve been living in an English speaking country – Ireland – since 2002.
Back in 2012 I decided to do something I’ve never attempted before – learn how to speak like native English speakers coming from different English speaking countries.
I want to learn how to speak like an American.
Also like an Englishman.
And eventually I’ll probably attempt to learn some regional accents – Southern American, Dublin (I live in Ireland after all!), Scottish – just for fun!
Here’s How I’m Going to Learn to Speak With Different Native English Accents
I’m going to embark on accent learning missions
I’m going to make videos of my progress.
Hopefully I’m going to do interviews with real people to see how convincing my accent is.
And I’ll also show you that there’s so much more to speaking with specific accents than just your speech!
Most likely I’ll adopt certain behavioral patterns during my accent learning missions to show you that demeanor plays an important role in how your speech comes across.
Why am I doing all this?
Well, here’s a short story of my life as an English speaker!
As you can imagine, my English is pretty good and over the years I’ve achieved fluency in the language. I can communicate with other English speakers with ease, my English writing isn’t bad either. All in all, I feel comfortable in an English speaking environment!
There’s only one aspect of being a foreign English speaker that annoys me. Namely – my foreign accent.
Do you just think I’m annoyed because I can’t get rid of it?
Not at all!
You see, I believe that as far as we foreigners are capable of getting the verbal message across to our conversation partner with ease and we are understood, we’re fine. There are plenty of famous foreign English speakers who speak fluently yet they’ve retained their native accents, and they are a living proof that accent reduction isn’t necessary to achieve fluency in the English language.
What irks me is quite the opposite – the widespread belief that you’ve just got to speak like an American, Englishman or Australian to be perceived as a competent and fluent English speaker! 😡
There are folks who’ll tell you right off the bat – “Hey, do away with that accent of yours, your English is terrible!”
A question may quite naturally occur after reading all this – why am I running this blog then if I’m not that bothered by my foreign accent when I speak English?
1. I want to prove that a native English accent is just another skill that any foreigner can choose to learn or not to learn.
It’s not necessarily an indicator of one’s fluency simply because majority of foreign English speakers don’t learn how to speak in English with a certain accent while learning the language!
I want to show that I can choose to speak with any accent I want and anyone can do the same. Why anyone? Because I’ve been speaking with my hard East-European accent my whole life and if I can learn to speak like an American or a Brit, for instance, then I don’t see any reason why anyone couldn’t do the same!
2. I want to show the world that the term ‘accent reduction’ is actually wrong.
You don’t need to reduce anything. If we think of native English accent learning in context of reducing our foreign accent, it may sound like an epic task, like mission impossible. Reducing something you’ve been doing for years, maybe even decades? Nah, not going to happen!
Yes, I’m talking semantics here, but it’s very important!
Instead you have to approach the whole thing as simply learning to pronounce words a certain way and you have to train your lips and tongue to adopt a certain position when speaking with a particular accent.
3. I want to prove that accent learning isn’t that difficult.
I don’t have much proof for it right now because I’m writing this before I’ve embarked upon any of my accent missions, but it’s my guess and I believe I’ll be proven right.
Why have I got such a feeling?
Well, simply because I have been experimenting with accents before while trying to imitate people and it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. Puckering lips in a certain way alone will make you sound completely different, and you just have to let go of all embarrassment when experimenting with your speech, that’s all!
IMPORTANT UPDATE 16.10.2013!
As of now, I have 2 accent learning missions under my belt – American and British, and I can tell you with all honesty guys – IT WASN’T THAT DIFFICULT!
Yes, there were major challenges along the way, and sometimes I thought I would never succeed as an accent learner and I also have to admit that at one stage I thought I should abandon this venture altogether…
Thank God I didn’t do it because I’ve ended up being more confident than ever about my abilities as a foreign English speaker, and I’m a living proof that speaking with a native-like American or British accent isn’t mission impossible!
Just check out the videos below and see for yourself:
Sure enough, I haven’t achieved 100% native-like speech – and I probably never will! – but the main thing is that I’ve been able to RADICALLY change my pronunciation within a matter of months.
Earlier in my life I thought it was extremely difficult, now I realize it’s all just a matter or practice, practice and let me tell you once more – PRACTICE! And of course, you need to know which sounds to pay particular attention to, and it’s something I’ve discussed on my blog in the very detail over the last year or so.
I hope you’ll enjoy following my Accent Adventures while I’m perfecting my American and British pronunciation!