It’s the start of the new year, and you have decided to work on your accent. Hooray!
Now how do you start? What tools would you use?
Here are the tools of the trade that I highly recommend, if you were to practice working on your accent at home by yourself.
- Recording device. To get a good picture of how you sound, you should obtain a recording device. Nowdays, every mobile phone has a voice recorder. Or every computer has a voice recorder. I don’t really think the device matters, the main thing that matters is that it records your voice accurately. You want something that will play back your speech clearly. And yes, I know how much people do not like hearing their own voices. I think its important to start getting used to hearing your own voice. It will help you develop self-awareness!
- Mirror: Now this could be a hand held mirror or a mirror in your bathroom. Anything that you can look at yourself. When we grow up learning how to speak our native languages, we learn by listening and watching adults around us. Same goes for learning a new way of pronouncing – at ANY age. Invest in one and notice how you start moving your mouth. The ways you open your mouth ( UP-DOWN, SIDEWAYS, NEUTRAL) affect each sound!
- Pen and Paper & Highlighter: The simple things in life. When you are listening to speech from others, note down the changes you have to make for each sound. Use a highlighter when practicing specific words/sounds. Eg: Sound, and you can highlight the /d/ to ensure you focus on that sound when speaking/reading.
- Notebook: If I had a dollar for the amount of blank stares I have gotten when asking my clients which words are their worst enemies, I would be a millionaire by now. Carry a small notebook, or jot it down in the notes section of your phone or anywhere secure. Everytime you get misunderstood, write that word down. Have a look at it at the end of the week. Chances are, there are not that many words you are mistaken on ( hooray!) or, the words you get misunderstood have the same pattern. Awareness is the first step to awesomeness!
- Sticky notes ( Post it Pads) Whatever you call them in your side of the world, I love these things! Once you have mastered a few sounds, and are working on generalizing them in your daily world, these would serve as great reminders or tools. I generally advise my clients to pick five words for the week. These words can all start with the same sound, to be ideal practice. Eg: ( honest, home, hours, hello, hot) Choose words that have high frequency and importance in your world. Write these five words on a sticky note, and put those sticky notes in common places( Mirror, wardrobe, steering wheel, computer, desk) anywhere, where you spend a fair bit of time. So for the entire week, you are reminded of these words, and how to pronounce them correctly. I simply love this idea and highly recommend to all my clients for continued practice.
So there you go, the above five are my recommendations on what tools to use when working on your elocution. Have you used any of them before? Comment below on your favourite tools, I am keen to hear about them.