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Accent reduction

This is a journal about my journey on reducing my German accent when speaking English, to sound more natural and maybe not immediately give away my nationality when opening my mouth.

Just to be clear, the goal is not to sound like a native. This will most certainly never happen. There are definitely people who can achieve this, but different people have very different inclinations with languages, and sounding like a native is not mine.

An interesting question you have to consider when trying to find out, wether you have improved your accent, is who can actually tell if you sound more natural / clear. There are different groups that you could ask: natives who have not heard you speak before, natives who have heard you speak before, and the same thing for people who are not natives. There can be arguments made for talking to different groups. It also depends on what your goal is. Maybe you want to be able to “fool” people, who do not speak english super well, into thinking that you are britsh or american. Or maybe, when talking to natives, you noticed that you have to repeat yourself sometimes, because they do not understand your pronounciation that well all the time.

Another question is what dialect you want to work towards. I think there is a consensis that there is no such thing as “high english”, like in other languages such as German or Arabic. The dialect of those languages is spoken by officials and in the news and is considered “neutral” by most native speakers of that language. So with english, you basically have to first decide which broad dialect you want to practice with - f.e. British, American, Australian, Canadian or South African. And then you can choose a more local dialect, like a state of the U.S. and work with that.

Practice paragraph

Taken from https://www.nku.edu/~ocallaghant/LingVariation/AccentParagraph.htm

As the pen fell far to the floor, Amy watched it hit the linoleum. She knew she couldn’t have caught that pen if Brian threw it to her from his greasy old hands. But she picked it up and wrote the directions to her house. She cleared her throat, but her words still sounded hoarse.

“This is the best route. Keep your horse to this path, and you’ll be fine. After you cross the creek, be careful of the large roots that come up out of the ground. We’ll have a cot set up in the guest house for you.”

Amy handed the pen back to Brian. She wanted to wash her hands immediately, but settled on wiping them on her jeans. The look on Brian’s face when she did this sent a pin-pricking sensation through her. She knew she shouldn’t be so hard on him. After all, she thought, he is my brother. I shouldn’t be so angry all the time. And he is doing us a great service by helping us out this summer.

“Thanks again, Brian. I’ll see you in the morning. Travel safe.”

Brian nodded to his sister. He did not attempt to extend his calloused, dirty hand to her. But he smiled, knowing that at least she had begun to trust him again.