Frequently asked questions about accent reduction
People wondering how to reduce their accent - or considering the purchase of Get Rid of your Accent products - tend to ask several key questions about this challenging topic:
How long will it take me to get rid of my accent?
It is very individual. It depends on several factors: on your hearing abilities, on how much time and effort you are prepared to invest and on your native language. For example, in our experience, people with a native language that has sounds similar to English can get rid of their accents faster. There are languages that are very different from English, such as Japanese and Chinese. For speakers of those languages it might take a little longer to get rid of their accents. It also depends on how focused you are during the lesson and how much time you invest in doing your homework.
What is special about “Get Rid of your Accent” books, apps and video course ?
There are plenty of pronunciation books on the market, which can be divided into two main categories -- the first one is aimed at improved listening skills, whilst the others are on the technical side of pronunciation. Thus neither of these types of books are designed to eliminate accent. Our video course, apps and books are based on more than 25 years of teaching experience. Our method is very practical: we offer 10% of theory and 90% of practice. The training is very focused and entertaining.
Get Rid of your Accent gives detailed descriptions of the position of speech organs for each sound, without being too technical. Another strength of the book is that it gives the right progression of structured exercises, starting from pronouncing words, then sentences and finally articulation verses with the studied sounds. Practice has shown that this combination brings outstanding results for accent reduction and improved articulation.
We are proud to say that Get Rid of your Accent was one of the first books on the market for accent elimination. The international success of the book led to creating Get Rid of your Accent series for people with different level of English and speech needs including the audio book and iOS app for training General American Accent and in July 2019 we published our first video course with a complete set of elocution lessons. . You practice speech doing articulation and rhythmic exercises, repeating amusing sentences, useful colloquial and idiomatic phrases, verses and tongue twisters. You practice pronunciation, intonation and in addition learn lots of new English words and phrases.
Why we decided to publish apps and books in series Get Rid of your Accent?
I came to the UK in 1996 to study and work. I had obtained a proficiency certificate in English and completed an MBA. Then I had been working for international companies. After all these years in the UK, I was still suffering from the fact that my pronunciation wasn’t easy to understand. I was asked to repeat myself quite often. I did a pronunciation course taught by an EFL (English as Foreign Language) teacher, but it didn’t help. I was advised to find an elocution tutor, or a speech tutor, which is the same thing. Elocution is a more old-fashioned term and was used more 50 years ago. However, even now, many still call a speech tutor an elocution tutor. I found Linda James, who is a trained phonetician and a qualified speech tutor with more than 25 years of experience in accent reduction. After just the first lesson I could see the difference in my accent. I became Linda’s “star student”, as she calls me, and we wrote a book together, entitled Get Rid of your Accent. The book became a bestseller, and we began to run courses for diplomats and professionals who needed to neutralise their accents. Many of our course students have experience similar to mine: they tried to learn accent reduction with EFL teachers, who are not qualified to help with accent reduction. The reason for that is that only a speech tutor can tell you what you are doing wrong with your speech organs.Now, when I look at some of the Web sites that offer accent reduction lessons, and see that many of their teachers are general EFL teachers and not speech tutors, I understand why many students who tried to learn accent reduction with them don’t succeed and are forced to look for other options.Our advice is this: if you want to get professional help, avoid wasting your time and money, make sure your accent reduction course is taught by a trained speech tutor or a phonetician!
What are the benefits of accent reduction?
The obvious advantage of accent reduction/elimination is that it will make it easier for people who communicate with you to understand you. That, in turn, will make you a better communicator.
There is a famous saying: "How you say something can be more important than what you say". The way we talk is an important part of our overall image. Speaking clearly will build up your confidence and create an image of an educated person in the eyes of others.
There is little need to mention that confidence and good communication skills and articulation are nowadays of primary importance in almost every job. We can boldly say that getting rid of your accent will open up all kinds of possibilities for you!
Our students told us, that thanks to "Get Rid of your Accent for Business" (written in the style of Financial Times and The Economist) and "4Ps: Power, Pitch , Pace, Pause" (public speaking app) they feel more confident when writing emails, presenting and during conference calls.
The majority of our clients are: financiers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, diplomats, management consultants, business executives, top IT consultants. They enjoy our courses and call them “life changing”. Many of our clients were promoted, as their speech clear, professional and educated. Here are some of the things our clients told us:
“In our company we have two bosses: a Japanese one who does everything, and an English one who does very little apart from talking, but makes more money as he has great speech and presentation skills!"
Judy, Marketing firm
“If I don’t speak clearly I will just remain a junior IT guy making peanuts who is staring at the computer all day and never even allowed to go to meetings.”
Yago, IT consultant
“My boss told me: If I don’t lose my accent, I will lose my job.”
Gulnara, Financial Advisor
Why do people have accents?
When people speak in their native language, their speech organs (lips, mouth, tongue etc.) are not strained. From their very first words, they develop and train a certain set of speech organ muscles. They use their lips, tongue and even their breath in a certain way.
When people begin to speak in a foreign language such as English, they don't automatically position their speech organs in the same way as native English speakers. That explains why one might very well speak with an accent.
In addition, some English sounds are not present in other languages. For instance, the "w" sound does not exist in Russian; Russian speakers often use the "v" sound instead. Russian speakers learning English must learn how to articulate the "w" sound -- in other words, how to position their lips for pronouncing "w" properly.
Is it so hard to get rid of your accent?
"The most difficult thing in life is to get rid of long-term habits," goes a Russian saying. Getting rid of a foreign accent requires hard work, repetition and perseverance. The keys for success are the right teacher and the right accent reduction book and app!
Moreover, there are not that many trained teachers who can help people get rid of their foreign accent. There are many teachers who can help one to learn basic and intermediate English, but to improve pronunciation requires a qualifier speech or received pronunciation (RP) teacher.
In addition to a lack of trained teachers, there has been a lack of suitable books. Get Rid of your Accent is the first book which aims to help people reduce and eliminate their foreign accent. This is what Olga experienced: "First, I reduced my accent to the point where people understand me clearly. Then I reduced it again, so that people can no longer tell what country I am from. This is the level most of our students want to get to. I am not pretending that English is my native language, but it is easy to have a conversation and it’s not all about me being Russian. I am not put in a box."
What is Received Pronunciation (RP)?
There are many English accents, which is the best to learn?The answer is: Received Pronunciation, or RP. For those who are not familiar with this term, RP is sometimes called standard English. RP is simply a neutral pronunciation of educated southern English. We use RP for Get Rid of your Accent Part One, Two and Three and General American Accent for our latest book. General American is an accent of educated Americans and is used in White House, Courts, etc. In the past RP was the only accepted accent on the BBC, that’s why RP was called BBC English, it was also called Oxford English or Queens English.
Beginning over a century ago, RP spread rapidly throughout the the Civil Service of the British Empire and became the voice of authority and power in a substantial part of the world. Because it was a regionally 'neutral' accent, and was thought to be more widely understood than any regional accent, it also came to be adopted by the BBC when radio broadcasting began in the 1920s.
Today, RP retains its considerable status, used by most educated people. It is still the standard accent of Parliament, the Church of England, the High Courts and other national institutions. It has long been the chief accent taught to foreigners who wish to learn a British model. RP is also taught in acting schools in the UK nowadays, as actors from different cultural and social backgrounds are required to speak with RP when it's necessary for their performance.
One might ask: "Why not learn to speak with a Welsh or London Cockney accent,? Why make an effort to reduce a strong Russian or Spanish accent?" The reason is very simple: to help you to be understood by the majority of English-speaking people.
Who will benefit from “Get Rid of your Accent” apps, books and video elocution lessons?
Native English speakers who will benefit from the book include:
Pronunciation and speech teachers
Actors with non-RP accents who wish to pursue an acting career in the UK
Hollywood actors who need to develop a British accent
Professionals for whom a high standard of English and clarity of speech are important.
Non-native English speakers who will benefit from the book include:
International businessmen and executives
Skilled professionals: teachers, professors, doctors, journalists etc who wish to advance in their profession in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries where English is an official or business language (e.g. India)
People who work in service and hospitality industries and need to communicate with good English.
Is good English important to be successful?
Following are some facts about why good English is very important today and why we published products in series Get Rid of your Accent:
English is the Global Language
80% of all document on the Internet are in English.
Teaching English as a foreign language turns over £6 Billion annually across the globe.
First England, by creating the British Empire, became a superpower, followed by the USA with its powerful economy and global influence. People want to get in touch with that economic and political power house.
Speakers of the English Language
350 ml people speak English as their mother tongue, e.g. USA, Australia, etc.
Another 350 ml use it as second language or semi-official language, e.g. India, South Africa, etc.
700 ml speak it as foreign language with reasonable degree of fluency, e.g. Greece, Russia etc.
Total: 1.4 billion people, or 1/4 of the world population, speaks English.
Trends for the future
150,000 people are learning English per year.
This number is growing by 20% per year.
Results of Marketing Research
Research was conducted in 3 London colleges where English is taught as a foreign language.
100% of the interviewees replied that they would like to get rid of their foreign accent and speak more like native English speakers.
When students were asked if they would like to get rid of their foreign accent and speak more like native English speakers, the most frequent replies were: ‘That’s why we are here’, and ‘Yes, of course’.