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Tutors / tips to change your English accent
120 points by thiago_fm 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 94 comments
Let's start with that my accent is clear enough and I don't have communication issues at work. I actually feel quite comfortable.

But I'd love to have a perfect west coast American accent when I speak english. Having learned a few other languages myself, it feels pretty good when you can surprise a native.

Anybody that went through that process of improving their accent with a tutor or on their own could share their learnings on it?




I'm a native English speaker, but I'm from Texas, and as a kid I tended to talk really fast and mumble: if you've ever seen the show King Of the Hill, I talked like Boomhauer.

I deliberately trained myself to speak with a neutral American accent - probably what you mean by a West Coast accent - by watching particular actors and practicing - in private - speaking like them. In particular, for me, it was John Malkovich, who has perfect diction and enunciation.

This was in my teens and it took a couple of years, but it paid off. Nobody can tell where I'm from now, though people mostly assume California. I still say "y'all" but I say it with no Texan drawl, which sounds a bit odd to people, I think.

Just find people who speak the way you want to speak and watch them, listen to them, try to repeat things they say until you've got the accent down. At first it'll seem embarrassing, even if you're alone, and you'll find yourself feeling like a pretentious poseur for a while, but eventually you won't. It'll just be how you speak English.


As more of a story of external impressions, i'm from Seattle and I postdoc'ed in Germany and I got more than my share of the opinion on English from those who could speak English there (damn near 100% at a University). The first problem they had was placing my accent; they couldn't. Finally they concluded that i was some-sort of Canadian (which is pretty accurate). Then they did their own versions of U.S. accents. Almost universally these divided into New York and Texan. Their impression of the states, based on either vacationers or hollywood, confirmed their view that people from the U.S. were either loud with a Texas accent or loud with a New York accent. We decided that it was a natural sampling bias based on the overhearing of the loudness.


I grew up in SoCal (NW Orange County - in between Seal Beach & Los Alamitos), but my mom's family hailed from near Texarkana, TX. I can still recall one of my second cousins asking me, in a very Southern accent: "Gregory Lee - whaay dew yew tokk so fuunny?" It was the first time it occurred to me that I had an accent. I've reconnected with her on social media and talked to her a couple of times. Her accent has flattened out, but I still get a chuckle about that exchange.


> It was the first time it occurred to me that I had an accent.

As a non-native speaker, it's funny to me that some people think they don't have an accent. An accent is just the way you talk, if you speak, you have an accent.

What everyone seems to think an accent is, is "this person has a different accent from mine, therefore they have an accent".

It's like seeing a blond person for the first time in your life and saying "it never occurred to me I had a hair color".


For what it's worth, I would take a beautiful Texan drawl all day every day over most other American accents (which tend to sound really nasally)!


> I still say "y'all" but I say it with no Texan drawl, which sounds a bit odd to people, I think.

We say it in Western Massachusetts, but it's clipped, more like "Can I help yal?"


Calling it now, in ten years "y'all" will be a standard fixture of every American English dialect and nobody born after 2020 will bat an eye at it. It's just a great word, distinct in semantic utility and satisfying to enunciate. Even as a Pittsburgher with a license to "yinz" I still say "y'all".


Agree.

“Ya’ll” is linguistically necessary in English since the word “ye” was deprecated.

A common alternative to remove ambiguity between singular and plural “you” in some parts of the US is “you guys”.


English has "thou", which was the singular second person pronoun, and "you" which was the plural second person pronoun, but also used as a more formal, polite singular second person pronoun. Through a kind of formality inflation, everyone started using "you" all the time and abandoned "thou". Contemporary standard English doesn't have a plural second person pronoun, but needs one, and so "y'all" (or "ya'll") is being used now in some regions.


“Ye” is just the nominative case (like “I” vs. “me” being accusative), it has nothing to do with number. Thou/thee is the one with number.


You have it exactly backwards. Thou is singular and informal, ye is plural and / or singular formal.

Ye is a second-person, plural, personal pronoun (nominative), spelled in Old English as "ge". [0]

The word thou is a second-person singular pronoun in English. It is now largely archaic, having been replaced in most contexts by the word you. [1]

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye_(pronoun)

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou


Not sure how my comment is “exactly backwards” — it’s logically consistent with your (new) comment. My point was that, relative to you, ye makes a case distinction (nominative), and that relative to you, thou makes a number distinction (glossing over formal/informal).

We deprecated ye and thou, but it’s the latter that “requires” y’all, because only thou (relative to us still having you) distinguishes the number of people.

Edit: put another way, “thou/thee is the one with number” meant that reintroducing them would create a number distinction.


Then, there’s all y’all.


Also a Pittsburgher and I find y'all and you guys to be much more natural and widely applicable than yinz.


the easiest way is to be around people who speak the way you want. my accent has changed multiple times in my life as i moved to different parts of the country (south, east, west). none of it was conscious doing. of course the hard part of that is the moving, but the internet lets you find people around the world to listen to and even talk with.

that said, i wouldn't even worry about your accent. oftentimes, it's a great piece of conversation fodder, and a connection to your past that you take with you where ever you go.


Were you the guy who left this voicemail for Mike Judge?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kiwgG6T9se0


For me (also from the south), specifically, it was about identifying the sounds that I usually misspoke. Dragging vowels out was one obvious one, but one I literally couldn’t hear at first was e.g. the difference between “pen” and “pin”. That one took a lot of practice and I still have to think about it occasionally for multisyllabic words I’m not sure how to spell.


> I'm from Texas

A relative grew up in Minnesota but moved to Dallas as a young adult and ended up with a mixture — now there was an accent! (The MN part is now more or less gone.)


That’s funny, I grew up in west Texas and had the same accent. Interestingly, after living in Austin for a few years it was completely gone


I live in Austin, and I frequently have to tell people I know, especially people from New York, that hardly anyone here talks the way they expect (I lived in New York for a long time before Austin). A related misconception: thinking it’s a desert.


I went through this process on my own. I grew up in India and my first language is Tamil which is very distant to the European languages. I now live in the midwest. I can't tell the differences between regional American accents except the very famous Bostonian "paak the car" but I've listed some tips on how I improved my pronunciation.

When I started doing stand up comedy 12 years ago I realized I needed to work on my accent[1].

Here are some tips,

Pronunciation of english sounds is influenced by your first language.

Understand phonetics.

https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/comments/fohull/a_yea...

Follow the links to Pronunciation: Basics, prosody and phonetics on the page above and understand how sounds are made.

If you don't understand the mechanics of tongue position, lip shapes, where the sound originates (front of the mouth or back of the throat) then you may not be able make the right sound.

If you can spend money get expert help (speech therapist, though I haven't done this personally).

Practice. Speaking involves physical muscles so practice those muscles.

Record yourself and listen ( after a few days). Observe pronunciations that need to be fixed and repeat.

In time, the mechanics of tongue position, lip shapes etc., will become subconscious and you will not have to worry about this consciously and you will speak naturally.

1. Most recent stand up comedy performance. https://youtu.be/845a6wyO5h0


You didn’t ask for feedback but based on context I think you might appreciate it. I’m also assuming you’re going for a standard/midwestern American accent. If not, this won’t apply. The only phonemes that stand out to me in your stand up are the “r-colored” vowels like “ar” in farm, the “er” in “New Jersey” and “nervous”, and the “or” in “for”, the “ir” in “shirt”. (Actually “ir” in shirt and “er” in “nervous” are the same phoneme /ɝ/ and you did pronounce it at the end of “power” at one point.)

https://youtu.be/wBuA589kfMg In this video at 4:28 she demonstrates these “r-controlled” vowels (I was wondered what they were called).

This one has a fuller explanation of “r-colored” vowels and even gets into what makes “ir” in bird even more unique. https://youtu.be/GbLcJ1G6Fiw

But then, these are the types of sounds that are different by region, like the “paak the cah” example you said for Boston, certain southern accents, let alone other countries (England RP etc) which are often non-rhotic.

I enjoyed your standup talking about pronouncing emoji and banana, and about emoji finally letting us let out our feelings. :) I checked out your other clips. I guess the one you linked here is unlisted.


Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.


I'd love to learn phonetics, but with written materials like this it feels like learning to ride a bike by reading a book. I'm still at a loss with regards to how to actually make the sound. Without a teacher, I don't think I even realize my own mistakes.

How did you learn to physically make the sound? How much time did you spend practicing daily?

Thanks so much for the advice. I too hope to do stand up one day.


You are right. Language is a living thing and the spoken language needs to be practiced in real life.

For some aspects of phonetics I found this book helpful,

https://www.google.com/books/edition/American_Accent_Trainin...

Also, I had help from friends in the comedy world sometimes. I would ask them if I am saying a word right before going on stage.

It took many years but that's because I had to learn it without any books. I was willing to become a child and look like an idiot for a long time.

If I had to do it all over again I would invest time in learning phonetics.


I personally found that learning the intonation and 'rhythm' of the language has way more influence on how easily the other person understands you.

If the goal to for people to understand you ( vs sounding like a native speaker). I would focus more on the flow and the music of the language. Unfortunately this is cultural and can only be picked up passively through cultural immersion. You cannot pick this up as an outsider.

btw, your standup was really funny, kudos for putting yourself out there like that. That's amazing.


That's impressive work if you only learned English as an adult. There are whole sentences in there where you sound like a native speaker. I'd say your biggest remaining issue is rhoticism with words like Jersey.


I don't think you need professional help with that. Your original accent you picked up because of the people around you. If you are with Japanese you will pick up a Japanese accent. If you are around bangaldesis you'll pick up a South Asian accent. You can simulate the same using the internet

Edit: It might be easy to pick up accents maybe because I know 5 languages and also I'm a teenager and not an adult.

Note : I'm also south Indian who has never been outside the country but I can tell if it's a southern accent or a Midwestern accent or an upper class coastal accent.


Professional actors rely on "dialogue coaches". Have you ever viewed "The King's Speech"? That seems like a parallel experience.

I haven't deliberately picked up new English accents, but I've taken formal classes in Spanish, making conscious efforts to imitate the phonemes of native speakers.

I would say that consistency will count for a lot in choosing your dialogue coach. Every year I had a new teacher; the first was Mexican, the second was American, and the third was from Barcelona! So, I was faced with deciding which accent(s) to learn and how to distinguish them and how to avoid mixing them all together. So, identify your target culture, and articulate that to your prospective coach so that you're on the same page, and try not to change coaches once you've settled into a relationship.

So you'll soon find out that there is not one "West Coast American accent", although there may be fewer of those than British English has produced. Growing up, I learned how to communicate with Valley Girls, surfers, CEOs, computer geeks, vatos, Crips, Bloods, goths, rivet-heads, Christians, pagans... well, you get the picture!

And before anyone objects and says those aren't accents, "surprising a native speaker" will involve vocabulary, grammar and syntax as much as the phonemes and inflection. So the OP has a broad definition of "accent" in mind.


Here’s a class from Stanford (continued studies so anyone can take it, for a price), it was via Zoom for the last couple of years.

  Accent Reduction for Non-Native Speakers of English
https://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/courses/professional-...


Thanks, I'll look into it


Not at all the same thing, but I was briefly capable of speaking enough Chinese to just barely make it around rural China for two weeks, and I attribute it to a tutor I had who was a musician and taught me to literally sing the tones.

What I observe about most native English speakers who try to learn a tonal language is that they don’t really do the tones, but it isn’t because they aren’t capable. It’s because it feels silly or wrong to sing when you’re supposed to be talking.

I’ve also noticed I have friends with, for example, an Italian accent who can mimic my English pronunciation pretty closely if they want to mock me.

I think many people are pretty good at mimicry, but they probably keep their accent because doing it differently feels like they are being someone else, or they just feel silly or wrong doing it.

So I guess I say, tutors are great. Also maybe just mess around with mimicking speakers you want to sound like and put aside whatever identity you have subconsciously tied to how you currently speak? Especially try not to think about how words are spelled. Just mimic the sounds.


> it isn’t because they aren’t capable. It’s because it feels silly or wrong to sing when you’re supposed to be talking.

My problem with tones is mostly that they are hard to remember.

But I think you have a point that sometimes it feels silly. Especially if you learn with non-native with others who have the same bad accent as you, you don't want to stand out as the one who tries too hard.

Another issue is when the language you learn use the same alphabet. For instance, if you're French learning English, you're tempted to read the English words with your French accent.


Feeling silly can definitely hurt you. When I was learning Spanish in school I could never forget how stupid I felt assigning genders to inanimate objects.


Also sometimes accent shows because the speaker isn’t sure at real-time how the sentence is “supposed” to be said, and therefore falls back to the way that feels the most natural. So yeah, listen to more people speak, mimic them, and practice repeatedly so it comes through naturally when you need them.


I used an accent coach (https://www.dannybryckcoaching.com/accent-modification , who was excellent). Highly recommend this path--you need a human in the loop providing feedback. You will probably be able to get some improvement on your own, but it will be inefficient.


Just out of curiosity, how much does such service cost hourly? So I did A quick google search returned group training begins at about $40 an hour per person, and individual training at $100 an hour, with additional fees for materials.[1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/business/worldbusiness/05...


I don't recall what I paid as it was a few years ago, but I do recall feeling like it was worth it.


hour pay is the key, as long as it's affordable.

speech AI moves fast these days, maybe we can have a chatbot focusing on accents, in fact I have been thinking about this for a startup idea for a few weeks myself.


How much did you pay?


Accent coaches are great. I worked with one in the context of learning an Irish accent for theater in college.

You learn IPA as a tool for discussing sentences and get someone whose mouth you can watch closely without freaking them out and who will watch and understand your mouth position well and provide immediate feedback.

For some language transitions though you have to start out retraining your brain to hear sound distinctions before you can hope to produce them. The L-R distinction in English, for example, is particularly hard for Japanese speakers because they can't hear that there are two sounds.

It can also be very helpful to enlist a native speaker with the target accent who is a coworker. Basically give them permission to tell you after every conversation what you said that wasn't in the target accent.


First of all: my admiration to anyone who really tries to do this.

Secondly: I sang for 10-15 years, quite often in German, Italian, French, Latin, and a few others. In the community opera I was in the chorus with, they always had a diction coach, so we didn't sound like a bunch of Americans ("tutti" isn't "tood-ee", it's "toot-tee"). I'm sure that to a native speaker, we still did, but at least the effect wasn't comical.

Lastly: a shout-out to native French speakers. Is it even common for an American to lose their American accent, especially one over the age of 35? I read somewhere about a class in Paris where the teacher had you speak while holding a pencil in your mouth (sideways); I forget what exactly that was supposed to drill into you.


> I read somewhere about a class in Paris where the teacher had you speak while holding a pencil in your mouth (sideways); I forget what exactly that was supposed to drill into you.

This is definitely a strategy for teaching the French “r”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrjMJ_PAlB8


I was supposed to have learned the rolling r, since that's how it's pronounced in Romanian (my native language). It always came out as the french one though. Nowadays I can somewhat kind of do it for the common words so I don't sound terrible. I'm guessing with a bit of practice I can figure it out.

It turned out right though, since I recently moved to France. It makes learning pronunciation _much_ easier. My r is already perfect.


I loved this. un crayon


There are some interesting search results for [accent training app]: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=accent+training+app&atb=v279-1__&i...

I'm a native English speaker, but have modified my accent for teaching international students, to be better understood. I did it by interacting with small classes and individuals, and paying attention to their level of confusion/understanding. I had been explaining the same subject matter to native speakers for years, so could have a reasonable guess at whether confusion was caused by language or content.


It depends on what you mean by "West Coast accent". Generally, the stereotypical Surfer Dude/Valley Girl accent is looked down upon in professional circles unless you live in Los Angeles or you're a Kardashian. If by "West Coast", you mean the relatively neutral accents of, say, Silicon Valley employees and CEOs, then you should look for American movies and shows featuring Brits imitating modern-day Americans (Christian Bale, Hugh Laurie, etc.) and compare those performances to the actors' original voices in order to get an idea of how they "translate" their accents. Cartoons are also helpful[1]. A British voice actress by the name of Theresa Gallagher does a nearly flawless "neutral" American accent as the mother of the titular character in The Amazing of Gumball.

An accent coach is certainly a good investment, but it helps to be specific about you're goals. Doing so will save you money in the long run. "Sounding native" depends on time, location, and association as much as it does on enunciation. You may know this already, but the West Coast is a big place. Just as the accents of most Englishman aren't solely split between the * Made in Chelsea* crowd and Sir Humphrey Appleby, there is no monolithic West Coast accent.

[1] Trivia: many cartoons are recorded and animated in and around Burbank


As a Slavic language speaker, i used to pronounce "th" as "d" and simply focusing on this mistake made me feel like the accent improved greatly. I have also met a lot of people who roll their "r"s, so that's another easy fix.


One of my CS processors was slavic, and for a few weeks, I thought De Morgan's laws were the Morgan laws.


I don’t think accents are a problem per-se.

The thing is to speak clearly and don’t rush the words.

Try to enunciate each word slowly and carefully and first and you will not have a problem.

I love hearing accents. The diversity and genuineness of them are amazing and that’s what makes travel awesome.


To me accents are nice, diction is the one that is important to practice for clear conversation. One can be a native speaker and have a terrible diction though.


This won’t be a helpful answer, but reminds me of the times I’ve had to translate between the Ukrainian team at work speaking English for the Indian team speaking English. And I only speak English.

I felt like an active repeater cleaning up the signal.


Be careful what you wish for.

Here's a comment that I made, a couple of months ago, about someone that I used to work with[0].

I also remember the testimony of Fiona Hill[1]. If you know anything about her, she is seriously credentialed. Heavy duty The Real Deal.

She testified about how she came to the US, because she couldn't catch a break in the UK, with her "distinctive Northern accent."

Me mum[2] was raised by Scouse (Liverpool), and her parents went well out of their way to make sure she talked "posh." Worked a charm, but it was a pain for us sprogs, because she was constantly correcting grammar we'd use ;).

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31567522

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/experts/fiona-hill/

[2] https://cmarshall.com/miscellaneous/SheilaMarshall.htm


Two recommendations:

- American Accent Training – it’s an audio book. Lots of great advice.

- Accent’s Way on YouTube. She’s an Israeli who taught herself the American accent to a complete perfection. You wouldn’t tell. Lots of information and motivation!


> Accent’s Way on YouTube > taught herself the American accent to a complete perfection

Her oldest video is 12 years ago and I couldn't personally tell if she's just talented at mimicking sound from a young age or if she transitioned from a thick accent to a natural American accent.


A friend of mine invented a new way of teaching English vowel sounds. There's a card-game version of this method that adults, kids can play.

We tried the card game version with a room full of native "American" English speakers... but I first learned English in "Deep South" USA. Another player was Latina from Los Angeles...

It was very interesting: I discovered that I could hear vowels that they could not. They think they pronounce "o" in "orange" about the same as "o" in dog. While Southern USA would say "ahringe dawg", but we can also pronounce a more neutral "orange" but it's not the same as a West Coast standard accent.

I used to be really into these distinctions, trying to place people on the map from their choice of words and accent.

If you like this sort of thing, want to learn a new way to experience English accents, you might like the Color Vowel Chart:

https://colorvowel.com


> perfect west coast American accent

Aim for something more neutral, like what you hear from national newscasters. No one will think about a neutral accent, but if you start saying "hella" and "stoked," it might be cringy. Or you say "The 101 was hella slow today," and every native Californian will know what's up.


> "The 101 was hella slow today," and every native Californian will know what's up.

Dude, hella is way norcal, and "the 101" is way socal; gonna stick out when you mix them like that.


Keep those shibboleths straight.


Some good advice in here. One thing I'll add is: make sure you know which English words have weird spellings that are nothing like the pronunciation. (This is a lot of words!)

The huge mistake I hear non natives make all the time is to incorrectly pronounce things like they're spelled. Eg pronouncing the "b" in "debt" (it's actually pronounced just "det" in every dialect), or pronouncing "says" with the same vowel as "say" (it's actually more like "sez" in most accents.)

There are zillions of other examples - I can't give you a list of words to be aware of, but I'm sure that someone somewhere must have compiled a good list.


Is that the list you are looking for? ;-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chaos


Maybe better enjoyed when someone reads it to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1edPxKqiptw


Write down a list of words that you do not pronounce as you want. Record yourself reading them out loud, listen back to it and try to say it better next time. You can also create some sentences from those words and read them.


There seem to be a lot of people interested in learning how to speak with a certain accent. I only really have observations to share about this. I studied linguistics at university in both the US and Germany. I'm a native English speaker. I studied Chinese, Japanese, French, and Spanish to some extent in addition to German and English. I don't consider myself fluent in any, unfortunately, but I can actually sound like a native speaker in any of these languages, when I focus on it.

I've known people who didn't focus on English who still had barely-detectable or undetectable accents, and I've known people who dedicated their lives to learning languages and never lost their accents.

My observation is that there are some people who can hear and imitate easily and naturally, some who can if they focus on it and try hard, and some who probably can't at all. There is a direct correlation with music, I believe. If you can hear a pitch and sing it, there's a good chance you can also imitate a native speaker relatively easily.

I'm not here to discourage anyone though. I tell my children that their brain is just as good as anyone else's. Even though some people are naturally better at certain things than other people, if you work harder than they do, you will be able to exceed them in most cases.

So the final word, the TLDR: practice, practice, practice is the way to learn to speak with or without an accent.


1. Forget about the letter "R" and use "ah" instead. That's how they talk.

2. Squeeze your nose with your fingers and talk

3. Keep your chin up. Literally and figuratively

I am only half joking. Proper English is very the opposite of how I was taught to speak my native Bulgarian. I can do it well enough but still feels completely unnatural even after all these years. Especially weird because we were exposed to so much US English on TV while my teachers were doing the British one.


> Forget about the letter "R" and use "ah" instead. That's how they talk.

Take this too far and you'll sound like you're from Boston or Long Island.


I have a London accent, with a bit of Home Counties[1] thrown in. It's not an 'Eastenders' accent. What I would like is to transition to soft Scottish accent, as someday I expect to be living north of the Border, and the Scots really don't like the English[2] (in the main). It's an odd use case to be sure, but it's something I'd like to do nonetheless.

---

[1] The 50-ish miles around Greater London.

[2] I don't really blame them to be honest.


Just practice imitating the desired accent a lot - eventually you will get really good at it.

My perspective was growing up in southern England (Devon and Somerset) and going to first public school and then private school (known as state and public schools in UK respectively). My Dad decided to send me to private school when I started developing a strong local Devon accent that he didn't like. At private school I learned "BBC english" that has a certain non-regional accent. For fun we used to imitate various regional accents - Devon, Somerset, London/cockney, Birmingham, Newcastle/Geordie, Yorkshire, Scottish, Irish are the main ones I remember. Later at age 23 I emigrated to USA and was immediately exposed to my boss's Brooklyn accent as well as generic NJ/east coast accent. Later moved to the midwest for 10 years and then the west coast, but by that time it was too late and I still retain what Americans consider a British accent, but which Brits now consider distinctly American.


Could I shamelessly post a link to my accent training YouTube channel? The whole channel is devoted to language development through speech shadowing exercises. These exercises will help you do some accent training on your own: https://m.youtube.com/c/IELTSRyan


I am a non-native speaker. I’ve took an accent training course from a coach, it took about a year.

We made a recording before we started and additional records over the length of the course, and I cannot believe how much more pleasant and American-y I sound now.

It kind of gives confidence I never had before when speaking English.

If you’re interested, I can give a referral. My mail is in profile.


While this thread is mostly about American accents and switching among them. Is there a way to inherit in general the western accent. Anything US related or British accent would do me good. Bonus points for Australian accent.

However I come across from Northern India and have a strong mother tongue influence. Any general tips for me to switch to US or UK accents?


What did it for me was just listening to _a lot_ of spoken English. Try to watch movies, youtube, listen to podcasts, etc. You need to feel it. And practice speaking to yourself or others.


I'm currently studying West Coast American (Los Angeles specifically, so "Hollywood" accent) with a tutor I found on Preply. We're using a book called Mastering the American Accent by Lisa Mojsin, which comes with audio tracks. Getting feedback would be ideal (hence a tutor), but maybe you could use the book by yourself?


A few decades ago, when learning languages at school, we had access to tape recorders for particular phrases: listen, record, rewind, repeat ad nauseam. Very powerful.

These days recording tech is all around. But study and repeat. Ask friendly people to correct you (at appropriate times) - most won't!


You should start by learning the phonology of the English language and its main dialects (namely Standard British English and General American). You need to know the theory because if you try to rely on your perception it will fool you. You need to know what you have to pay attention to. For example, if your L1 is a Romance language you have to be aware that vowel length is important in English, and that diphthongs are a single phoneme. Things like these you'll never be able to figure out yourself, they need to be taught. Once you know the theory in and out, you have to get a lot of exposure to the accent that you're interested in. Lastly, you start to imitate what you hear. Bear in mind that it takes a lot of practice to get a foreign accent right.


Where do you live? What's your first language?

The generic way to perfectly learn a local dialect of any language is to:

- live there, have local friends, coworkers etc

- get an accent coach

- check if there's a good linguist specializing in the transition from your native language/accent/dialect to the target one (for me there was this guy https://www.youtube.com/c/PhoneticFanatic who is excellent at explaining things in depth, but his channel might not be useful for others)


There are a few apps that help you with that. I’ve used “Real Accent” and it’s useful for practicing a new accent. There are some with live instruction now. They may be worth checking out.


I tend to pick up the accent spoken around me (I'm not a native English speaker). Not quite sure to what extent it borders native speaker's accent, but it happens without any training.

On a separate note, if you feel you need to change your accent to fit in, perhaps the people you feel would appreciate hearing you speak in a different accent are not worth the effort of fitting in with?


Personally I love hearing different accents and turns of phrase, makes things more interesting.

Although I do understand the desire to fit in or not be judged differently (especially with the number of mean/bigoted people out there)


Listening to a particular accent will get you comfortable with it. Too much tech youtube helped me with picking up an American accent


Unsure about west coast american, but there's a metric fuckload of accent coaches for the British RP (received pronunciation) accent.

I had a housemate a few years ago who had normally a very Yorkshire accent, but for career reasons had been taking RP lessons and sounded like a BBC presenter.

Apparently its pretty common in some professions to take such lessons.


When I’ve been to the states, as a Brit the only regional accent I’ve regularly had problems understanding is west coast.


Any specific things stuck out to you about it?


Can anyone tell me what it was like to live in the USA as an immigrant child and have a strong accent?

Is it something you wanted to change about yourself and did you or do you wish you could have?

Did people bully you for it?

Asking because I will be bringing a step son to the US and I’m wondering if we should try to correct his accent or not.


I had an accent because English wasn’t my first language despite being born and growing up in the US. I had to take ‘English as a second language’ courses and was bullied through school. I was also scared to talk for my first two years in elementary school.

Though my experience may be vastly outdated. And it all depends on your environment. What kind of school would your child go to? Would it be a diverse school? Are kids more exposed to things now, so that accents won’t be so much of a big deal?

Either way, I think it would benefit to try and correct your kid’s accent. It would help them with pronunciation and help others understand them better. It may help them feel more confident in speaking.


I have many Asian American friends and I can tell you with confidence that they have zero accents even when their parents sound like someone fresh off the boat. Kids mimic how their friends and teachers talk, not their parents


What's your native tongue ? Some variant of English or something else ?

If its a foreign language, depending which one, it could well be more hassle than its worth to try to get a "perfect" accent.

Whichever way, you should be prepared to invest a lot of time to it, especially if you are hoping to be able to fluently switch between accents. Its unlikely to be something you can master in a couple of weeks.


Can strongly recommend 'Astound' app for this.


i have question, Why?


Do you want an English accent, or a particular American accent?


Author said they want a "West Coast" accent.

Author failed to say what their present accent is. I enjoy regional accents; I find it sad that people would want to dispose of their heritage, and adopt some neutral "white-bread" speaking style instead.

People's accents change through immersion. My parents lived in Liverpool, but sent me away to school. But my sister went to school in Liverpool, and began to acquire a scouse twang. I hated it, because I thought it was put on; I don't think that any more. She was just talking the way her schoolfriends talked.

So I think the best way to acquire a particular speaking style is to hang around exclusively with people who talk the way you want to talk. In particular, it seems to me that hiring elocution tutors from Mexico and Spain respectively, can't be a good idea. My guess is that the author is hispanic.

I've seen this "immersion drift" in accents many times. I've even done it myself; when living in London as a youth, I started talking in a sort of mockney street style. It wasn't deliberate, or even conscious; in fact when I realised it was happening, it embarrassed me.


I'm with you on this. I'm an expat South African living in London and I find myself occasionally doing the mockney thing. It sounds like a really bad blend of DiCaprio in Blood Diamond and Vinny Jones in Lock Stock. Not a good sound.

As an aside, for a laugh do you ever ask your sister to get you some "chghicken and chgan of cghoke" /s


It's tricky. I find it a little sad that regional accents are disappearing but it's a process that's been happening for a long time.

The trouble is that there's real benefits for having certain accents and you can't fault someone for wanting to be seen in a different way.


From the question:

> I'd love to have a perfect west coast American accent when I speak english




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