How long will it take me to lose my accent?

When I meet people for the first time they usually ask me one of two questions~

How long will it take to lose my accent?

How long will it take me  to lose my accent?

1. How long will it take me to lose my accent?

OR

2. How long will it take for me to sound fluent?

My answer is this~

You probably won’t lose your accent, but you can learn to sound fluent when you speak American English.

How old are you?

Most of you who came to North America after the age of 11 or 12 will never speak with a native accent. The habits of your first language are too strong for you to lose your accent.

You can however, make changes to your speech that will enable you to sound fluent and very clear to North Americans.

Accent assessment

Accent assessment

Start with an assessment

The first thing you should do is get an accent assessment.

Here’s why.

Learning to speak fluently takes focused and deliberate practice.

The results of your assessment will tell you what features of American English you need to focus on.

You want to focus on the sounds and patterns of English that are creating communication breakdowns for you, not for someone else.

Once your understand what your challenges are, you won’t need to waste time watching random YouTube videos about sounds or patterns that you already pronounce correctly.

You’ll have a focus for your pronunciation practice.

You’ll know the American English sounds and patterns that you need to improve in order to sound fluent and clear.

Are you comprehensible?

Are your words comprehensible? If not, you’ll need to focus on syllable stress.

Do you speak too quickly? If so, you’ll need to focus on phrasing and pace.

Do you drop your word final sounds? If so, you’ll need to learn the rules for pronouncing consonants at the ends of words.

Establish a structure for practice

The second thing you need to do is find a structure for practice.

Online courses

Online courses

These days we suffer from having too much information. It’s tempting to try this video, try this podcast, try this “magic formula”.

If you want to speak fluently, you need a structure, a framework, or as my client Nilesh so nicely calls it, a learning path.

The results of your assessment along with your learning style, will enable you to choose a book, class, online course or coach that best fits your individual needs.

You can use these resources to create your structure:

  • American accent books
  • American accent classes
  • Online courses
  • Personal coaching

People who are social usually prefer classes or personal coaching.

People who like to learn on their own usually prefer books and online training courses.

Consistency 

The third thing you need to do is be consistent in your practice.

Consistent practice

Consistent practice

It’s always fun to start something new, right?

We get all excited about learning a new skill. Then we fall off after a couple of weeks. I know I do!

Here are two ways to build in consistency.

1. Schedule your practice times into your daily schedule.

For example, promise yourself:

When I’m driving to work, I’m going to have my audio lessons downloaded on my phone. I’ll listen and practice every morning on the way to work. Five days a week. No excuses.

Before I go to bed, I’m going to take 20 minutes to go into my home office and work in my book or online course. I’m going to do this four times a week. No excuses.

2. Work with a coach

A coach will keep you motivated and consistent.

A coach will give you critical and positive feedback.

Perhaps most importantly, a coach will help you integrate and apply the sounds and patterns that you’re learning into speech that sounds clear and fluent.

Back to our original questions 

Effective communicators

Effective communicators

1. How long will it take me to lose my accent?

OR

2. How long will it take for me to sound fluent?

Losing your accent is usually not the answer.

And that’s okay, because you can learn to speak American English in a manner that’s clear, fluent and engaging.

Many years 

Some of my coaching clients have worked with me for many years. 

These clients have experienced a high level of career success that they directly attribute to their ability to communicate fluently.

  • These clients are giving speeches.
  • These clients are giving outstanding presentations.
  • These clients are leading meetings.
  • These clients are critical to the success of their companies because they communicate at a high level.

None of these clients has “lost” their accent. However, they communicate clearly and fluently.

They’re so committed to the process, that they work with me month after month.

They continually improve the way they communicate.

Quote

Here’s a quote from Shannon L. Adler that I’d like to share with you.

Alder Communication Class

In order to speak fluently you need to get started

Once you get started on your learning path, you can learn to speak American English fluently.

You can learn to speak in a manner that’s clear and not distracting.

But you probably won’t lose your accent.

About the author

Susan Ryan is an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Her training programs will teach you how speak American English in a way that sounds clear, fluent and professional.

Contact her with your questions about fluent American speech.