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I Have a Neutral Accent. Do I Need To Improve My Accent?

Posted On: June 15, 2011

I have a neutral accent. Do I need accent reduction coaching?


Jennifer’s answer:
I don’t know what a neutral accent sounds like. I can offer a few questions to help you analyze yourself to decide if you could benefit from accent reduction.

Questions to ask yourself about your own speech patterns:

  1. Do you think others understand you when you speak?
  2. Do you think it’s the word choices, speed, sound patterns, tone?
  3. Do you talk fast? Does the speed of your speech affect your accent and how others understand you?
  4. Do you know what kinds of things are misunderstood by others when you talk?
  5. If you need to give presentations for your work, are you organizing your presentation in such a way the person from the target culture understands you best (linear vs. circular, for example)? Do you give the audience breaks and time for questions or feedback? 


Questions to ask yourself about what you hear others say:

  1. Can you understand words that are said by people around you?
  2. How much of any given sentence can you follow or understand?
  3. Do you notice any differences in others speed, tone word choices, sound patterns?
  4. What kind of things are difficult for you to understand when others talk?
  5. Can you follow idioms, slangs, or local phrases?
  6. Have you asked people to slow down or repeat? If so, does that help you understand better?
  7. If you hear a word or phrase you don’t understand, are you able to get it defined?
  8. Are you able to truly listen to someone else before you respond? Or, are you translating what they are saying while they are talking or thinking of what you are going to say when they are talking?
  9. Do you feel you are asking others to repeat

See this post on more tips for speaking English anyone can understand

When we are learning another language it’s easy to think that people misunderstand use because we are not native speakers. Think about the times you spoke in your native language. What kinds of misunderstandings arose? We must be aware of our own clarity in speaking and communicating in different languages and cultures that may be able to help us better comprehend our shortcomings in learning to understand and be understood in another language.

However, sometimes we don’t get feedback from others on our communication habits. Others may find it embarrassing to tell you what they don’t understand and how to improve it. They simply may not know how to guide you also. In those cases, I am happy to help you. I have accepted recordings of prospective students, listened to them and given feedback or talked to prospective students on the phone for up to an hour or so to help them decide if accent reduction is something they can benefit from. (I do not charge for that conversation.)

-End of Question and Answer Session-

Authentic Journeys can help you to communicate more effectively with global counterparts. Check out our programs here.


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Original publish date: 6/11, updated 5/2020


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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