Today, let’s talk about speaking, and in particular improving your English accent..
When it comes to accents, there are two main attitudes among English learners. First you have those who say, “But if I have a cute foreign accent native speakers might find me attractive or be more forgiving of my mistakes.” These people also might be convinced that maybe their accent isn’t so bad after all. Then you have those who refuse to speak at all because they think that their accent is so bad that people will not understand them or that they will look ridiculous for even trying.
Why Improving Your English Accent and Pronunciation Is So Important (Video)
Why Improving Your English Accent and Pronunciation Is So Important
Take it from me: both extremes are wrong. It’s perfectly okay to have a bit of a foreign accent when speaking English. The majority of English learners do keep their accent and it’s true that a little bit of an accent can be quite charming. But I really do mean a “light accent”.
Many people out there unfortunately have a very strong accent that makes it difficult for native speakers to understand them. I myself have learned French. And at the beginning I had a lot of difficulty improving my accent, so I know how you feel.
But going back to English let me explain why you really should work on your English accent and pronunciation.
To Be Understood More Easily by Native Speakers
First and most importantly: if you want to be understood, it’s important to have a good accent. It can be uncomfortable for both people in a conversation when the message just isn’t getting through. You may have already experienced this, either as the person who doesn’t understand or as the person who is being misunderstood. So even if you have a limited vocabulary and are unable to rephrase something if you learn how to pronounce a few things perfectly, there won’t be any miscommunication.
To Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes
Again, having a slight foreign accent can be cute or exotic, but only to a certain degree. And only as long as it does not interfere with communication. Bad pronunciation can also lead to some embarrassing mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times my foreign students have accidentally said “turd” (which is a way to say poop in English) instead of “third”. Other common pronunciation mistakes that can be very embarrassing include the words: beach, focus, sheet, sock and us. And I’ll let you guess what those words sounded like. Those are a few English examples but these types of pronunciation mistakes can happen in any language.
To Make a Positive Impression When You Speak English
Next, working on a really good accent is the easiest way to appear more fluent than you actually are. Again you might not have a very big vocabulary or only know very basic grammar rules, but if you can pronounce a few very simple sentences very well you will make a positive impression on the person you are speaking to. You will also see more fluent than someone who has tons of vocabulary words and knows very complex sentence structures, but pronounces them with a terrible accent. Let me stress this because it’s very important: working on your pronunciation is the fastest way to improve your spoken English.
To Improve Your Self-Confidence and Motivation and Be Proud to Speak
The targeted work on some of the most commonly mispronounced sounds can make a huge difference.
Let me add one more reason. Not only will a good accent impact the way other people view you, it can also positively influence your perception of language learning. If people don’t understand you because of your pronunciation, even if you are saying a perfectly correct sentence, you might get discouraged or even start to resent the language. This is of course bad for motivation.
If you’re proud of your accent though, you’ll be more confident. If you’re more confident, you’ll be more likely to practice speaking the language. The more you practice, the better you’ll be, and the more progress you’re able to see the prouder you’ll be. See how this can turn into a positive cycle?
So to sum up, improving your English accent and pronunciation is very important for four main reasons:
1. to be understood more easily by native speakers
2. to avoid embarrassing mistakes
3. to make a positive impression when you speak English
4. to improve your self-confidence and motivation and be proud when you speak with a better English accent.
I hope that’s enough to convince you of the importance of working on your accent and improving your pronunciation. Now you might be thinking “okay this is all really nice, but how can I actually improve my accent and pronunciation?” First of all, when you learn a new word, make sure you pay attention to how a native speaker pronounces it and try to reproduce that same pronunciation.
This is why when you learn a new word or sentence using your MosaLingua app, the first step is all about listening to a native speaker pronounce the word or sentence and repeating after them to try to get the correct pronunciation. This way you can compare your recording to the teachers recording. Don’t be afraid to keep recording until you get it right! This way you’ll learn the correct pronunciation from the very beginning. You won’t need to worry about correcting bad habits that you’ve picked up later on.
Another way to drastically improve your pronunciation is to focus on the sounds that are most commonly mispronounced by speakers of your native language. For example, Spanish and Japanese speakers don’t always struggle with the same English sounds. Some of them are more familiar to them than others. Believe me, a targeted work on a small group of sounds can result in amazing improvement.
If you’d rather listen to this article, head over to the MosaLingua Language Lab podcast:
We also think you might enjoy this episode:
Listen to “#66 – Improve Your Pronunciation with the IPA” on Spreaker.
It’s a comprehensive 10-module course designed to help you improve every aspect of your spoken English – fluency, confidence, pronunciation, and more – step by step, and enjoy doing it.