I’ve always wondered.
“How the heck can this Italian dude speak such good English with an American accent and with such good pronunciation in Mandarin?”
This question was in the back of my head while we took the train together after the Polyglot Conference in Budapest, speaking both English and Mandarin for most of our ride.
So when my mom, caught me by surprised, told me that she wants to take on the +1 Challenge to reduce her accent and become more fluent in English.
I knew exactly who to talk to.
Luca Lampariello from The Polyglot Dream.
In this interview, Luca dived into the steps of how to work on accent reduction and become more fluent.
Not just for speaking English, but for any language.
Here is the interview with Luca.
Below is a short summary from this interview.
The plan that Luca recommended my mom was simple and anyone can do it.
Work on the list below everyday consistently.
- Psychology (did not cover this in the interview)
The goal is to train yourself to hear the melody of the language by visualizing, breaking it down with the following method.
How to Work on Intonation
Before you begin working on intonation, you need some materials and tools.
- Written text or script on paper
- Audio of the script
- Download a free software call Audacity
Step 1: Getting Ready
You take a sentence and have the audio ready.
The first example we had in the video was:
You listen to the audio in Audacity.
If its too fast for you, slow it down with Audacity.
Step 2: Breaking Down the # of Sound
How do you do that?
When you hear a sentence, you basically hear a group of sound separated by pauses in between.
Luca calls one chunk of a sentence as one sound.
For the above example, “I live in Rome” will consider as one sound, because you would pause after “Rome” before you say “and I think it is a wonderful city”.
You then put a slash in between them, as an indication of how many sound are in that sentence like below.
As you can see, there is a slash in between Sound #1 and Sound #2.
The underline represent that the words are connected together as one sound.
Step 3: Visualizing the Pitch
Listen to the audio and determine the pitch at the end of each sound.
Luca worked with me in the video and even though my English is fluent, I had trouble getting the pitch.
When this happens, slow down your audio in Audacity.
Then you will hear the pitch either goes up or down at the end of the sentence. (watch video to see how this works)
Once you figured it out, draw an upward or downward arrow above the word when the pitch begins as below.
Step 4: Time to Practice!
There are 3 sounds in this German sentence.
After you draw the pitch, speak out loud the first sound for at least 3 times.
Move on to the next sound once you feel comfortable.
If you have trouble with a word, like “wunderbare” for me in sound #3 in this example.
Break down “wunderbare” further like this then try to pronounce it.
After you are comfortable with all 3 sounds, try to say out loud the 3 sounds continuously.
This is a top down approach, meaning, you break down from a sentence down to a single word.
This is what Luca uses because the pitch and stress are different depending on each sentence.
Because of this, it will not be as effective if you only practice up from a single word to a whole sentence.
All these visualization will give you a completely new perspective on sound intonation and accent.
Which I find amazing because there is no more guessing and its broken down in chuck size manner that anyone can work on.
How to Work on Pronunciation
It all boils down to this.
- Knowing physically how to produce the sound (like where to put your tongue, is your mouth open or slightly close, etc)
- Practice and attempt to produce the sound through trial and error.
- Get feed back from others either by making a video, sending an audio file or hire a trainer.
I only had half an hour with Luca so we were just scratching the surface on this topic, but this will give you enough to at least get started.
If you want more in-depth how to work on intonation and pronunciation to have a native like accent in English or any other language, Luca just released a master class that you can check out here. (This is not an affiliate link, meaning I do not get any money for this. I am recommending it only because I can stand behind Luca’s material )
If you find this interview and write up useful, what did you learn?
Let us know in the comments.
Share it with a friend who wants to reduce accent!
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