Changing your accent as an adult: It’s never too late!
Adults are capable language learners at any age. However, adults often question their ability to modify their accent. Here are some adult learning considerations for improving your accent:
Avoid handicapping your own learning potential!
Too often we perceive increased difficulty in language learning as we age. This may be more related to environmental factors that compete for study time rather than a downward trend in the ability to master a language. Time each day is limited. Working long hours, parenting, or managing household chores will directly impact the time, energy, and attention available to learn a new skill. What are your daily time commitments? Categorize them with 3 labels: Must Do, Should Do, Could Do. With some organization and prioritization, you may find time for your accent modification classes and a few minutes each week to practice.
Identify your “escape routes?”
Do you talk yourself out of learning something new? What are your excuses? I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too old, etc. Perhaps you have heard these phrases in your mental narrative. While these are valid feelings, they may be escape routes from moving forward. Start to increase your awareness of these scripts. Are you able to identify them in the moment? If so, keep a list and look for patterns. Try to re-frame any that do not feel useful in your path to achieving your American accent. If you are too busy in the moment to complete your accent homework, assign a specific date and time with a reminder to complete the task.
Learn your study preferences
Adults bring their life experiences to learning experiences. How do you learn best? Know your optimal time of day, length of time, and environment. Are you a visual or an auditory learner, or perhaps a mix of both methods? Actively build your preferred methods into your study sessions. Share your learning style with your accent coach. She/he will incorporate your learning preferences into sessions to help you speak with the accent you want.
Develop a system for accountability
Investing in an accent modification program has the potential to yield big results! Are you looking to advance your career through a promotion, or perhaps get hired at a job you are well qualified for? Keep your goals in mind and develop a system to help you maximize your investment. While most accent modification classes are conducted weekly, students are expected to practice daily. Frequent practice yields faster and longer lasting results. As a busy adult, how will you commit to daily practice?
- What is your system?
- Do you use a calendar app or paper planner?
- Where do you keep it?
- How frequently do you check it?
- How are you reminding yourself of each study session?
- Do you have a place to write down notes or questions for our accent coach?
These systems are imperative for progress! You likely already have been using systems routinely without thinking about them. However, use them more actively to improve your accent and get the most out of your program.
Find ways to immerse yourself in American English daily
Whether you are living in the United States or another country you need to listen to and speak the language if you want to modify your accent. Virtual immersion is a great option as we embrace remote work and advancing technology to help us through the COVID19 pandemic.
- Stream music, news, and podcasts
- Watch TV, movies, or YouTube videos
- Read blogs, news websites, books, or magazines
- Professional networking or social groups conducted through videoconferencing
As you listen to and watch these resources, don’t simply focus on vocabulary. What facial expressions, gestures, and vocal volume do you notice when you observe and listen to native speakers? Listen to the melody and rhythm of the language – pitch, rise, fall, and emphasis. These are all components that are often overlooked when attempting to refine your accent.
In short, yes, is it possible to change your accent as an adult. The concept of modifying you accent as an adult can seem intimidating. However, you have a world of experience behind you professionally, academically, socially, and about your own learning needs. Effective programs will incorporate that experience and empower you to be an active member throughout the process of modifying your accent. It’s never too late to speak with ease and confidence.
Start your accent modification program by clicking here.