“Oh, are you German?”. Have you heard this question as many times as I did? Does it also drive you up the wall to be recognized as a German the moment you open your mouth? Not that I’m not proud of my German heritage, but when it comes to language an accent free pronunciation is a big advantage – especially professionally.
Despite me being fluent in English and having lived in English-speaking countries for most of my adult life, I did not seem to be able to get rid of that undertone in my pronunciation which immediately labeled me as a German.
Can you imagine my joy as I found out that one of my fellow remotes is an accent reduction coach. With her company Parker Accentuation she helps non-native English speakers to gain a standard American accent and to improve their speaking skills for interviewing, presenting, or public speaking.
Can I finally get rid of the annoying (to me) or charming (as others call it) accent?
I jumped on the opportunity to be one of Nicole Parker’s students. Once a week she sat with me and not only did I learn a lot about the history of the English language but also how to move my tongue, my cheeks and my lips to give the sounds I’m making the typical American color. Lots of laughter guaranteed. Believe me, it needs practice to move your mouth, lips and tongue in a way that you are not used to or to make sounds your throat just does not seem to be built for.
But with regular practice – make sure you’re locked away somewhere where other people cannot hear you or they might think you’ve gone mad – progress is inevitable. If you really put some effort in and spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day on your pronunciation, you will see rapid results. I improved my accent by more than 60% within a few weeks. And surprise, surprise, people who meet me for the first time now, cannot really tell where I’m from. They spot an accent, but not the German accent anymore. I was recently asked if I’m Australian :).