How to remove your native accent

How to remove your native accent
A native Chinese accent has not held back actress Ziyi Zhang in English movies such as ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.  However, for most people with strong accents, studies show they will find life and work much easier after softening their accent and being more easily understood in English.

A native accent can add character and cultural identity, however many speakers of English as a second language want the ability to remove or soften it in certain situations, typically in the workplace.  One of the reasons for this is the ongoing difficulty created when a native accent is so strong that it precludes listeners from fully understanding what is being said.

“I can tell you that large numbers of people do face prejudice in English speaking countries when they sound different,” reports one Language School Director.  “Mostly this is because listeners need to expend extra effort to understand what they’re saying  – which in turn creates impatience and frustration on both sides.”

Job market surveys also show that 8 out of 10 people with a foreign or regional accent have faced prejudice and discrimination because of the way they sound.  According to a recent poll conducted by Aziz Communications, neutral accents were the best accents for people wanting to get ahead.

SpeechSchool.TV is the largest provider of online speech training and has developed a Standard English Accent course which helps people develop a clear and neutral accent.  “Anybody can remove or soften their accent regardless of their language background,” reports the School.  “Our expectation is that within 3 months our students would see an improvement of 20% in clarity on their graded assessments, and much more beyond that.”

SpeechSchool.TV has developed an award-winning process that has been proven to help students remove or soften their accent.  Having worked with students from all around the world, the School has successfully helped students with Chinese, Indian, European and even native accents like Liverpudlian and Cockney.  The process involves teaching students all 50 sounds of Standard English and then providing the reinforcement and practice over a long period of time to make the new, neutral accent ‘stick’.  Regular weekly videos provide the ongoing support and continuous exposure that students need.  Alongside this, coaching is given on effective communication techniques and improving the student’s overall skill and confidence as a speaker of the language.

While accents provide variety and richness to the English language, there is a growing role for accent training so that speakers of English can choose the way they sound rather than being prejudged by a perceived foreign accent.  Students of SpeechSchool.TV report that they are now able to speak in a more neutral accent in their workplace or revert back to their local lingo when amongst friends.  Several confirm that improvements in speech have led to better job opportunities and increased income.

What is ‘International Received Pronunciation’?

Improve your accent
In an increasingly multicultural environment, clarity and understanding is key. A new standard in teaching spoken English called International Received Pronunciation is helping bridge the gap between clear pronunciation and retaining cultural identity.

SpeechSchool.TV, the world’s largest provider of online speech training, provides a model for speech and English accent learning in the form of ‘International Received Pronunciation’.  It has been extremely successful in helping speakers develop a mode of speech that is easily understandable and well respected anywhere in the world English is spoken.  So what is ‘International Received Pronunciation’ or IRP?

IRP is a model of English speech that aims to be as clear as possible.  It based on British Received Pronunciation but has some important differences.  “Received Pronunciation (RP) is the gold standard in spoken English,” reports the Course Director, “as the phonetic pronunciations are those used in an Oxford Dictionary.  It is highly regarded but spoken by a minority of English speakers.  When it comes to speech training, students don’t necessarily want to speak traditional RP, instead they simply want to soften an existing accent or speak a lot more clearly.  For that reason we acknowledge that the best result is achieved by learning RP but then blending it with the student’s own language background or the sounds of the country in which they’re living.”

While the International Received Pronunciation model was developed by SpeechSchool.TV as an ideal English Accent for global speech training, there are already numerous examples of IRP speakers.  For example the actor, Patrick Stewart who played Captain Jean-Lu Picard in the Star Trek series speaks with a mix of RP and his native Yorkshire accent.  Karan Bilimoria who founded the Cobra Beer company mixes in a little of his Parsi (Indian) background to his sounds.  This represents an ideal basis for speech as all sounds are clearly pronounced but they are also blended to some degree with an accent that reflects the person’s background and identity.

Why learning the English accent is the standard in international speech training

Learn the English Accent
Learning an English accent is the preferred way for professionals from other languages to improve their clarity and results in spoken English.

With more than 30 years working in speech training, SpeechSchool.TV’s Course Director was recently asked for some thoughts on accent in spoken English.

The School has provided various programs over the years to improve the clarity of students’ speaking.  This has included programs that teach the Standard English Accent (Received Pronunciation), the American Accent (General American) and the Australasian Accent.

When students want to improve their pronunciation clarity, they must first be taught a model of clear, authoritative English.  But what phonetic model do you base that on?  ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching for example uses two standards: either Received Pronunciation or General American.

However, when teaching spoken English, SpeechSchool.TV says one standard is emerging.

The School’s Course Director begins by saying that accent in speech is no bad thing.  “Some accent helps to communicate a person’s cultural background and adds a richness and authenticity to who they are.  Where SpeechSchool.TV comes in is where the strength of that accent is preventing clarity or having a negative result in the student’s speaking environment.”

“With speech training, all students naturally pick up to some degree the accent of the country in which they are living.  For that reason, we have found the best methodology is to teach students the purest form of spoken English, which is Received Pronunciation or Standard English.  They can then use that training to find their perfect voice, which provides lasting confidence.”

Apparently one of the problems with teaching the American accent is that it is a regional accent, has fewer sounds and is generally less clear than a Standard English Accent.  According to SpeechSchool, American students are better to begin learning Standard English speech, then modify sounds in American settings – which will largely happen automatically.  “We liken this process to making beer with pure water, rather than starting with flavoured water.  The pure basis provides a more logical starting point in learning.”

After substantial research, SpeechSchool.TV also decided to forego teaching an  American Accent course altogether in 2010, focusing on building “the best Standard English pronunciation course for all speakers, anywhere in the world.”

An additional reason for this was that the School noticed more than 70% of students from the American continent were selecting to learn the English Accent anyway.

SpeechSchool.TV believes the best possible basis for clear and powerful English speech is to begin learning the Standard English accent.  This form of speech is virtually ‘accentless’ and thus provides the best possible basis for speech training.  It also allows students to improve clarity while blending some of their own cultural identity and location into their voice as needed.

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