Learning a new language is an exciting adventure! It gives us a tool to communicate with other people and cultures. Research even shows that learning a second (or third) language might improve your cognitive abilities.
The image above is from Meroe, Sudan! Visit our log in page to see amazing images from every country on the planet.
Sure, the deep, philosophical reasons for language learning are great, but for many they have another desire. What is that? To really feel like they can “transform” in another language. Movie-goers have long been mesmerized by the skills of people like Meryl Streep and Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, wowing them with flawless British accents. They truly “became” that nationality for those roles.
So, how can we achieve that as language learners? Read on to get our 5 best tips for mastering new accents in your second language.
👩🏫 Learn from the real masters – native speakers!
There is a great population of masters out there who have all spent many years on the craft of their accent. They are, of course, the native speakers. You can spend time with these masters by taking speaking classes with them online. Using their teaching experience and natural accent gifts, they can help you craft your accent to sound like a real native.
Better yet, should you wish to spend class time focused on other things, you can also take the more passive route of learning through imitation. You can record and listen carefully to your teacher’s pronunciation and try to mimic their sounds. It feels silly at first, but over time you can incorporate those differences more naturally.
📺 Use movies and TV shows
Should the prospect of a fun, engaging and high-quality online class with a native speaker not entice you, you could always use movies and TV shows. The inspiring voicework and scintillating dialogue makes learning more fun, in many ways. The great thing about using media like movies and TV shows is also that you can pick up some great colloquial expression used in natural context. This helps you grow your language skills even further!
🕐 Be patient and persistent
Not even the most talented impersonators can nail their target voice sound in one go. It takes time, practice and a can-do attitude. It’s easy to give up on languages when one aspect gets too tricky for us to master. Accents are one such challenging area.
Start with some simple things, working on individual words and trying to identify common features of the mouth shape, position of the tongue and more. As you get more familiar and figure out how the syllables all fit together, it starts to become a bit easier.
🐻 Try to “stay in character” as much as you can
As with any language, the key to mastery is in regular practical use. Start by continually talking in your accent, even if it’s just to yourself at first. It’s not a sign of madness, no matter what others say. The more you practice, the more natural the sounds and mouth motions will feel. The result will be an accent that sounds less and less forced over time.
🎥 Make recordings and compare
With your other language learning, it’s easy to know when you’re making progress. Your test scores will improve, or you’ll find understanding whatever you’re hearing or trying to say much easier than before. Progress in your accent development, however, can be harder to gauge.
We often think we sound pitch perfect, but a third party will quickly shatter those illusions for us. Making recordings and comparing them to our source material (e.g. native speaker teacher) can be a good way to get a new perspective. The way we sound recorded is a reflection of how others hear us.
🎤 It’s all in the voice
In all honesty, accent training is something of a cherry on the proverbial language cake. It’s an additional flourish that we don’t urgently need. Communication is the most crucial pillar in the structure of learning a new language. Making yourself understood and expressing yourself in a new language may require accurate pronunciation, but accent is more of a luxury.
We do recommend saving the accent training until you’re a bit more advanced and comfortable in your target language. Talk to us here at LanguageConvo about setting up class time with one of our experienced and skilled native speaker teachers (accent included)!
🎉 Get started!
Are you interested in really, finally learning a new language? Here at LanguageConvo we connect you with a professional, native-speaking teacher for affordable, customized private lessons. Get started with a 100% free trial lesson by clicking here.