I had an advantage when it came to me learning English and speaking – I learned how to speak in a foreign country, so my basis for language did not have the blanket of an accent. When I was f
ive, I moved back to the states and to South Carolina, where my mother often reminds me of how she caught me trying to teach myself how to speak like my family did. The longer I have spent in the south, the more of an accent I have developed, but I feel like I speak eloquently.
With that being said, it is sometimes brought to my attention when I’m nervous, angry, or around friends and family that I do indeed have a bit of a southern twang. My biggest offender is the word “orange”, which I am constantly, reminded that I pronounce “are-gne.” I’m self-conscious of my accent, since nerves bring it out and social settings for me bring out nervousness, I feel like it’s prevented me from really being able to go to events and let myself shine. I’ve been working on my accent and how to reduce what I like to call Southern-Girl-itis.
Here are ten tips to toning down your accent – or getting rid of it completely.
- Remember that it won’t be easy; you’re basically teaching yourself how to speak again.
- Find words that give you a hard time and practice them in a mirror.
- Record yourself speaking to another person or read a passage from a book. Play it back so you can identify letter combinations that might be giving you trouble.
- Speak clearly by remembering to open your mouth.
- Say the word in your head before you say it out loud.
- Hold your fingers at the side of your throat when you speak to help “feel” what shapes you’re making when you say the words.
- Immerse yourself into speech that doesn’t showcase a regional accent.
- Speak to someone with a different dialect (like someone from above the Mason Dixon like if you’re combating a twang) and let them tell you what words sounded different.
- Learn new words and expand your vocabulary to introduce your brain to words without and accent.
- Remove colloquial phrases like “ya’ll” from your daily use.
What’s your accent? Are you like me with a country girl twang or do you have something like Boston or Minnesota seeping the edges of your tone? What have you done that’s worked to combat your accent?