If you aren't a native English speaker then you may be wondering how you can reduce your accent and adopt a new way of speaking your language. Or, perhaps you are a native American English speaker wanting training to sound more British with your pronunciation, intonation and general English accent. You may even be someone who has been brought up an area of England (the North, Midlands or South) and wish to adapt or neutralise your vowel sound to make your version of the english language sound like those around you or like someone you admire / aspire to be like - or simply so you just don't stand out.

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to go ahead with accent softening or reduction, there are many reasons for and against it and numerous ways to go about the communication challenge - from taking english lessons using book to attending a course with an English teacher!

It is not just non natives who wish to reduce their accents, some Brits want to as well.
Are you from a city with a broad or thick accent and want to tone it down? Photo credit: Phil Fiddyment on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

How Can I Reduce My Accent?

Before we move onto how you can change your accent, the question is why do you want to change your accent?

Below are some of the principal reasons for people wanting accent reduction english:

  • increase social/personal opportunities
  • increase professional opportunities
  • improve conversation skills
  • improve presentation skills
  • improve telephone skills

As you can see from the list, the majority of these lean towards the professional world, so does this mean that the world of work is much less forgiving and accepting of accents than our social circle? Is this your main reason for wanting to modify your way of speaking? Or is it mainly people working in the arts and being forced to change their accent to win roles who are driving this?

Is Any Accent 'Normal'?

Do you feel that your accent stands out because it isn't the norm for where you live or work? Do you pronounce certain words differently and struggle to stress the vowels or consonants in the correct places?

It might be easy to think that way but, interestingly, no accent is normal. Have you ever thought about that?!

While your accent may be alien to some areas or countries, it is perfectly ordinary in others and will leave people completely unphased. In England alone, there are no less than a dozen common or noteworthy accents to speak of - and that is just one small country. Imagine how many dialects and different pronunciations that must exist all across the world!

It's important to think carefully about undergoing speech or English pronunciation classes with a teacher because the way you talk is unique to you/your experiences and part of your personality, culture and heritage. Do you really want to risk losing a piece of you by changing your mentality towards the way you say words by going through accent reduction training?

You should never dismiss your abilities because of your accent, but if you have big aspirations and you feel that your accent is holding you back for whatever reason then you most certainly have the option to look into accent reduction classes and/or methods to make positive changes in your life that could help you to succeed and exceed.

Does A Distinctive Accent Matter?

Having a distinctive accent can, admittedly, interfere with some areas of your life. Sounds familiar? Don't like the sound of your own voice?

For instance, we cannot hide from the fact that many people still (yes, still in this day and age!) have preconceived thoughts about people with certain accents and their social class. Not every employer is guilty of stereotyping in this way - it is more of a widespread industry response - but some might say that a very strong and thick accent might not help you to get where you want to be if you were trying to be, say, a politician or a lawyer (yet Martha Costello from our screens and her "Lanky" accent is surely one figure to oppose this idea!).

But should you change who you are and adopt the Queen's English just to try to fit into your professional environment? Do others even care as much as you think they do?

But what about if you have a non native english accent, is that better or worse? The truth is that it is no better or worse!

If you speak in a different way to those around you, then it puts you in the same boat as anybody else - native or non-native - who doesn't share the same accent as their colleagues or customers. There is always an exception to every situation or story but much of your anxiety is probably totally unnecessary.

By all means, wear your nationality with pride!

Is your freign accent holding you back after having arrived in the UK?
Having an accent when you learn English as a non-native is perfectly normal, but there are ways you can reduce this. Photo on VisualHunt

Long story short - take confidence in your accent and embrace your uniqueness to give others no opportunity to doubt your ability or understanding. And if you are still not confident, then it may be time to invest in a coach offering a face to face or online accent reduction course to help you build self-esteem and get the respect you seek from those around you.

Discover the best platform to learn English online.

How Much Does Accent Reduction Training Cost?

As with any training, coaching or form of education, there is no one price attached to completing a course. English Accent Reduction is no different, and will all depend on the methods you use, the professionals you work with and their experience, how quickly you adapt and also your ultimate goal.

Accent Reduction Course

As an example of what you can expect, here are some prices for the London Speech Workshop's Accent Reduction and Softening course:

This company offers three packages to its clients: Basic, Classic and Gold. Prices range from £725 to £2550 depending on the options you choose.

  • The Basic package, for instance, lasts 1-2 months and includes 5 x 1hour sessions tailored to you and your needs with feedback.
  • The Classic, on the other hand, is a 2-3 month-long course with 10 hours of bespoke tuition included plus feedback.
  • Meanwhile, the Gold package is a little longer at 6 months (or less, if need be) and with 15 hours of goal-orientated sessions plus email/text and audio support and feedback.

Not all courses will offer totally bespoke services, and some may be only partially tailored to you (as in set for foreign speakers or focusing on one particular aspect of accent softening). You can imagine that other companies will offer similar options, however, no two courses will be the same so prices are sure to vary significantly.

You might even find some places offering London lesson free for those in the capital, but don't take our word for it!

We hope this gives you a baseline idea though!

 

Accent reduction is popular for those seeking career progression.
Reducing your accent could increase your opportunities at work. Photo on Visualhunt.com

Accent Reduction Sessions with a Superprof Tutor

In the same area of England, the capital, you can find a range of tutors offering bespoke Accent Reduction course options. On a search, I found almost 250 suitable individuals working on this exact subject, so you are sure to find someone among this list who is the perfect match for your needs!

You'll see some tutors offer a lower hourly price whilst others may have glowing five-star reviews to back up their higher fee (you can easily check out these ones from London free reviews).

What's more, the level of expertise varies so you can filter tutors according to their qualifications or specialism if you like, while also being able to sort them by location, method of teaching (face to face, skype, Facetime...).

As you can see, you don't have to trawl the Internet looking for private classes and reading long descriptions of what is covered and see if it applies to you, you can start your journey to a new accent right now by contacting a Superprof tutor and telling them what you need, enabling them to create a bespoke course in response.

Can And Should You Change Your Accent?

Some highly distinctive voices with their interesting accents are what make people stand out. Think of TV stars and politicians such as Boris Johnson, Abbey Crouch, Cheryl Cole, Daniel Craig, Joe Swash... they all have their very own manner of communication when it comes to speaking and you would recognise their voices in an instant if you heard them on the radio or in the street.

The same goes for some rappers, who you can identify from their voices and manner of singing. Some artists, however, aren't as recognisable for their accents as they are for their singing tones - in fact, when you come to think of it, it's quite hard to sing with any accent at all isn't it?

For example, we are probably all familiar with Adele's "Cockney" accent but that doesn't even slip through into any of her songs. I wonder, does Adele purposely sing minus her London accent to appeal to a wider audience or does she lose her accent in song just by pure accident? Do some singers have to undergo elocution lessons along with their vocal exercises as part of their jobs?

British Accents Commonly Known Around the World

Here are some more Famous British accents and their colloquial names!

AreaAccent Nickname / Known as
ManchesterGeordie
BirminghamBrummie
SomersetWest Country
CornwallCornish
EssexEssex
GlasgowGlaswegian

Resources To Help With Accent Reduction

App

FluentU

FluentU is a language app that can be downloaded on Android and Apple smartphones and which exposes listeners to only 'the very best of audio-visual English content' making it 'an incredible resource for practicing pronunciation. You’ll find yourself surrounded by real-world English speakers.'

FluentU uses a variety of mediums for this vowel and accent improving purpose, such as videos, talk show clips, music videos and commercials.

What's more, the app keeps track of your learning and suggests examples and videos based on the things you’ve already learned. So, 'every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re using the same video'.

Podcasts

Online Accent Reduction for Non-native English Speakers

It's an old one (sound files are 9 years old in some cases), but it's a good one!

This podcast is, as its title suggests, perfect for those non-native English speakers looking to hone in and correct their accent!

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Laura

Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.