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Learning the American accent or, how to lose your foreign accent?!

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
So, what is the best way of learning the American accent? Does any one know of any professional services in San Francisco?
post #2 of 20
Mainly listening to TV/radio will help.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Been doing that for ages, to no avail :-(
Thanks for ur reply though.
post #4 of 20

I would advise not to. I pick up accents pretty well, and after living in US for almost 10 years, I can easily pass as a local. But ALL my friends, including my girlfriend, prefer me to speak with an accent. Girls love it. Find some balance between speaking english well and maintaining your accent.

 

With that being said... I agree with MountainMan that watching TV and radio is very useful. Also, talking to native speakers is extremely helpful.

post #5 of 20
It depends what accent it is. I would try to lose any accent that comes from a less developed or exotic part of the world. There's really no practical benefit of retaining that perceived divide of non-Western culture or education like an accent from India or China or Latin America. But if it's English or Australian or German, or Japanese or something like that, don't bother unless people can't understand you, because they'll find it somewhat sophisticated.

Or, to put it more bluntly, get rid of the accent if it comes from a place that Americans would perceive as one where a person would desperately want to leave.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bullrams View Post

So, what is the best way of learning the American accent? Does any one know of any professional services in San Francisco?

The same way Americans learn an accent. Practice speaking while concentrating on the way you're pronouncing things. Find someone on TV who sounds the way you'd like to sound and then try to emulate the way they speak. Use a recorder to get some objective perspective and figure out what sounds are throwing you off. It's also important to examine your pacing and where you stress and emphasize sounds in your words.
post #7 of 20

Another key is to figure out which version of the American accent you want to learn.  Someone from Southern California sounds a lot different from someone from The Bronx, who sounds alien to someone from the south. 

 

Each has various distinct elements, such as rolled or clipped syllables, which give different impressions.  Many people in sales will often try to pick up notes of the "Southern Drawl", as the soft pronunciation and tendency to slightly slur words into each other can give a comforting and familiar feel to a conversation. 

 

I've had friends who were born and raised in America who sought professional help with speech coaching to get rid of lisps or other unwanted verbal idiosyncrasies. 

 

And on another personal note, I never look down on a single person who speaks with broken English or an imperfect accent, because I know for a damn fact they are doing a courtesy to me by speaking to me in my native language, and I could not do anywhere as good a job in reciprocating the courtesy to them.

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for the feedback!

StephenHero: yes, I want to lose the Indian accent. I know it sucks, hence wanting to lose it.
HgaLek: Thanks for your feedback! I heard my voice mail the other day left at our land line...was surprised how rough/rude/gruff/just plain idiot I sound...the reason this whole thing started. I just need a total speech makeover and I think, getting rid of my Indian accent will be a good start!
t2russo: Thanks and respect your perspective! A plain Californian accent would be just fine since I am here in San Francisco although, I interact with clients from all over the country..

Have tried watching TV, trying to mimic accents, but no avail! I just wanted to know of any trainer who could be of help and teach me the 'tricks' if you will, of intonations, stressing the right words, the flow etc.
post #9 of 20
This is my opinion: losing an accent is not as important as developing a greater vocabulary. I would focus on that (I'm sure your vocabulary is fine already) because people associate intelligence with a larger vocabulary.

I've got an issue with people trying to lose their accents when they come to the United States. These people should have the mechanics of speech down, but there's nothing wrong with an accent.
post #10 of 20
I gained the American accent as an immigrant in my teens; it was a natural progression, and I was an Australian English speaker before that, so the basis was mostly there. Before that, I learned English for the first time between 3-5.

I still have a bit of accent, especially when I drink hard and it's just shouting across a bar or talking quickly with friends, but the best way to get yourself into the groove is to watch TV or listen to spoken words, mimic them (and it will be comical) but you've got to get your mouth into the habit of moving the right way. Languages of the world all require different mouth muscles and gutteral extensions, sometimes the glottal stops and a bit of nasal control - if you can get them to work freely then taking on practical accents will be easy enough. FWIW what I've found amongst other ESL males is that the lower your voice tone goes, the better your American English will sound. I don't know why that is, but it's a common denominator I've noticed.
post #11 of 20
A lot of it is in the vowels.

If you pronounce "Bakersfield" as "Bikersfield", you automatically sound like you're southern.

Consonants also play a role, as many other languages don't have a "W" sound, and the "L" and "R" mispronunciations. Americans don't have the back of the throat "R" sound that is common in French. Yeah, you have to train your mouth and practice.
post #12 of 20
I was staying at these artist's home, while on a month-long externship, who hosted a couple of other people from Mexico and from Argentina. The Argentine was attempting to polish up on his bad English and was copying how I spoke, so I told him that I, of all people, should not be the one he tries to imitate.
post #13 of 20
My wife used to train call center phone operators. She used this material. I don't know if one could effectively use the material without a competent trainer.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

I gained the American accent as an immigrant in my teens; it was a natural progression, and I was an Australian English speaker before that, so the basis was mostly there. Before that, I learned English for the first time between 3-5.
I still have a bit of accent, especially when I drink hard and it's just shouting across a bar or talking quickly with friends, but the best way to get yourself into the groove is to watch TV or listen to spoken words, mimic them (and it will be comical) but you've got to get your mouth into the habit of moving the right way. Languages of the world all require different mouth muscles and gutteral extensions, sometimes the glottal stops and a bit of nasal control - if you can get them to work freely then taking on practical accents will be easy enough. FWIW what I've found amongst other ESL males is that the lower your voice tone goes, the better your American English will sound. I don't know why that is, but it's a common denominator I've noticed.

This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for! I did find someone on CL (of all the places!! - and this after perusing the web and looking at some really expensive options who train actors) and this is what I would ask him/her to help me with - thank you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbaquiran View Post

My wife used to train call center phone operators. She used this material. I don't know if one could effectively use the material without a competent trainer.

I don't think without a trainer this material will be of any use, at least for me! Thank you for the feedback!
post #15 of 20
I'm sure there's coaching/training you can get for this. Will cost you money though.
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