We all speak with an accent based on where we come from. Sometimes it can be beneficial to rid yourself of your regional accent. There are a number of helpful steps you can use to accomplish your goal. It can be helpful to first understand the accent you have. This can be hard as you can’t hear your own accent. It feels like everyone else has the accent. You can use a tape recorder to help you identify your own accent. Record yourself reading and having a casual conversation. If possible, have the conversation with someone who has the accent you are trying to change to.
When listening to your recording there are certain things you should listen for. Focus on your stresses. How do your vowels sound? Are they drawn out or cut short? Compare your consonant sounds to more neutral speakers such as people on TV. Children’s shows, such as Sesame Street, will pronounce letters and sounds in a neutral way. Find the characteristics or your home region in your speech pattern. Many accents will cut off ending of words, so you may need to concentrate on pronouncing the last syllable of many words.
Once you know what your stress points are, try to slow down when you hit them while you are talking. Slowing down will help you control your accent. If there are words that you know are troublesome for you, speak them very carefully. You can examine minimal pairs to help you decipher what you might be confusing in your speech, especially if you are not a native English speaker. Minimal pairs are pairs of sounds that can be hard to distinguish between such as “bed” and “bad” or “ship” and “sheep”. Use these pairs to help you change your accent by exaggerating the sounds of the vowels in these words. Be aware that vowels are really the sounds that distinguish one accent from another.
Try to speak to people with the accent you are trying to imitate as much as possible. Listen to them closely and copy what they do, just the way a kid learns to talk. You can also do this by watching the news. Anchors and reporters have already learned to suppress their regional accent, so they are good role models. Audiobooks and a variety of web sites also offer good examples of different accents.
Intonation is another important aspect of speech and can often change the meaning of a statement. Different cultures use different intonation to convey emotion. Again, the best way to learn a new intonation pattern is to listen to native speakers and mimic their speech pattern.
Finally, record yourself again and compare the recordings. This can help you identify what you are doing correctly and what you still need to work on.