Staying Motivated When Learning the American Accent

Jun 25, 2019

Sometimes it is difficult for your students to find the motivation to improve their speech. 

Everyone starts off strong, but after a few weeks, the commitment to practice daily starts to wear off, even with the best intentions.  

It is easy to underestimate the importance of strong communication skills.  We speak, people understand us most of the time, so we focus our attention, money, and effort on other areas of our lives.

So why should anyone bother to improve English pronunciation?  

I asked some of my students how they have benefited by committing to a speech improvement program.  Here are the 5 most popular answers that we heard.

 1.  I ENJOY conversations again AND I have a sense of humor when I speak, just like I do in my native language.

This is huge.  So many of my students have said to me, "I wish you knew me in my native language.  I'm actually really funny!  But I just can't express humor the same way in English.  I miss being the funny one at the dinner table."

Ok, they don't all use those exact words but it the same theme over and over.  The ability to say what you mean and know you are easily understood lets you relax and speak freely with others.  Non-native speakers also need to keep learning new idioms, expressions, as well as pop culture references in order to "get the joke" and express their own unique sense of humor.  As an accent teacher, you need to constantly be exposing your students to new idioms and pop culture references.

2.  I got a ....promotion, raise, callback, second interview, or the dream job!

This is probably my favorite on this list.  This is why I do what I do.  When I have worked with someone to improve their speaking skills and it helps their career?!?  Best feeling in the world. 

Speaking skills are so important to employers and unfortunately employers can judge an accent as good or bad, (even though this is technically discrimination.)  Ask anyone in HR how important it is to have strong communication skills for career advancement. 

3.  I wasn't afraid to ask him/her out.

Many of our students have reported having more confidence in social situations and a more successful dating life after working on their speech.  Just saying!

4.  People hear me, not my accent.  And they have stopped asking me where I am from.

Become more persuasive.  When you feel good about the way you sound, you can stop worrying about being understood and focus on delivering a powerful message.

And the whole "I hear an accent.  Where are you from?" is the absolute worst way to start a conversation with a non-native speaker.  Their words.  Not mine. 

5.  I sound like the best version of me.

Again, it is not always fair, but people do make judgments about us, based on the way we speak, and pronunciation is a part of that.  It is nice to have some control over this.

So share this list with your students when you feel like they need a little "kick in the pants" to practice more (and teach them that idiom while your are at it!)  My students are walking testimonials that there really are incredible benefits that come from sounding more like a native speaker.   

It's worth the daily practice.  


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