I have lived in the United States for more than five years now, and I am over 20 years old. Although I do not have that many problems with my verbal or written skills, it is not hard for people to notice my accents when I speak. I think I have failed to get rid of my accents because I have not completely surrounded myself with American people yet.

I want to sound as much "native" as possible. Besides trying to spend time with native people as much as possible, are there other things I can try to speak more naturally?

  • 2
    Listen to old recordings of Voice of America with Alistair Cooke. That is presuming, that is not the very accent you wish to rid. Oct 28 '13 at 1:42
  • 6
    If you work in a profession that requires a particular inflection or lack thereof, I might suggest a professional vocal coach. But if not, I would ask what is your goal? An accent can be a badge of individuality, which is no bad thing. If the goal is total assimilation, remember it is only one marker among many variations of inflection and usage within the U.S. (e.g. pop vs. soda, upstate New York's pronunciation of elementary, etc.)
    – choster
    Oct 28 '13 at 1:44
  • 1
    Watch TV and try to imitate how they speak.
    – Mitch
    Nov 1 '14 at 2:18

It is very difficult to remove an accent, whether foreign or regional, after puberty, without the aid of intense speech therapy/training.

But without intense training, the trick is to, well, exaggerate what you think is the local accent you're trying to copy. Even though it may sound funny to your own ears, it'll turn out to be closer to locals than you think. Pick the kind of accent you want and listen to it over and over (internet recordings are easiest) and try to imitate it, exaggerating everything that you can hear that is different. This will get you pretty far.

This is not to say it is impossible. There are people who manage to do well (actors tend to have a good ear for imitation).

It is relatively much easier to get better at vocabulary, nuances of turns of phrase, and syntax than it is to get pronunciation just right. That just seems to be a fact of life that is borne out by the numbers.

  • Basically I agree - for most people, consciously trying to change their accent (especially, quickly) is very difficult. But we all tend to shift towards the accent of the people we interact verbally with most, even if we make little or no effort. And for some people, that tendency to pick up the local accent is far stronger than it is for others. I think this is more noticeable in the UK because we have more accents closer together. You speak to someone on the phone a few years after they moved somewhere else, and sometimes they just don't sound the same. (Gone native, I say! :) Oct 28 '13 at 2:41
  • There are even people who subconsciously imitate the accents of those they speak to. My mother's work-colleagues thought it hilarious to hear her speaking to my father on the phone, because she would start speaking his Scottish accent.
    – Pitarou
    Oct 28 '13 at 3:35
  • @Fumble Fingers Sometimes when excited people will revert back to a previous accent. When inside Carrow Road watching Norwich City my Norfolk accent suddenly re-emerges. Indeed football grounds are probably the best places to go to study local accents.
    – WS2
    Oct 28 '13 at 6:48
  • @Mitch. I detect from your name that you may be American. I think you might, if you lived in the UK, wish to modify slightly what you have said. People do switch in and out of accents depending on the person they are addressing. I sense that women may be better at it than men. Actresses like Prunella Scales and Felicity Finch, do it faultlessly. And the latter plays in a daily radio soap opera, The Archers, with a strong regional accent, which is not her own, without anyone detecting she was not born and brought up in the north-east of England.
    – WS2
    Oct 28 '13 at 7:01
  • @WS2: Indeed. Many people also tend to revert when they're drunk. Particularly, I suspect, if they normally make at least some kind of effort to tone down a broad "birth accent". The finer points of "language control" tend to go overboard in a sea of alcohol! Oct 28 '13 at 14:42

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