Can you recall a time when you felt like you were speaking clearly, but native English speakers couldn’t understand you?
It can be frustrating, to say the least.
Even if you’re speaking clearly, and still can’t be understood, it’s not your fault if you don’t have a native accent.
In some cases, native speakers simply aren’t expecting to hear certain sounds or vocabulary, especially if someone thinks they’re a non-native speaker. Psychological experiments have shown that native speakers can even block out obvious things, like clearly spoken sounds!
It is possible to sound like a native English speaker and be understood with the right approach and effective English-speaking practice.
Here are a few ways to improve your fluency, decrease your accent, and sound like a native English speaker… and you can do it all on your own.
1. You can copy the accent of a native English speaker
There are a variety of accents in English.
It goes on and on – British English, American English, Australian English, South African English, Singapore English.
There isn’t one single “proper” English accent.
Even native English speakers can have difficulty understanding English accents.
Hearing a word pronounced differently or a phrase they don’t understand can make it difficult for native speakers to follow a conversation.
Copying a native accent is one way to sound like a native speaker.
The best way to copy a native English accent is to find one that sounds right for you. While an Australian accent, for instance, can be fun to copy, it may not be the right fit for everyone, especially if you live in Canada.
Immerse yourself in a native English accent that you like and want to copy!
Listen to as many native speakers as you can that sound like that. Watch movies and TV shows in that accent and imitate their pronunciation. Take note of their intonation and rhythm as they speak. It is really important that you find a native voice that fits you, which can come from a mixture of all the native examples you are exposed to.
2. Using sound transitions to master individual sounds
The ability to master these individual sounds is one of the hallmarks of fluency in English.
Your mouth and tongue moved to match the facial expressions of the people around you as they slowly spoke the words you were learning as a child.
It is this method that most adults are taught to learn English pronunciation – but it is misguided.
It’s a simple way to connect the sounds we make with the right facial movements. Let’s see how it works.
Make the sound ahhh, like the sound you make when drinking something cold on a hot day. Most languages use this sound, so you might be familiar with it.
Ahh ahh ahh.
By moving our mouths into an O shape as we physically make that sound, we can transform that ahhh sound into an ou sound, as in loud or sound.
It helps to hear exactly what mouth shapes make what sounds when you make the ahhh sound and move your mouth into the O shape. This is why I call it transitioning; you move from one sound to another.
We just transformed one sound into another, without any complicated diagrams or lessons about mouth and tongue placement.
3. Discover how sounds blend together
A native English speaker blends sounds seamlessly, creating a smooth and connected flow of speech. Pay attention to how native speakers link words together, shorten sounds, and use contractions to achieve this.
Frederick is a great tool for practicing both individual sounds and phrases once you’re comfortable with individual sounds.
Using step-by-step lessons, Frederick can improve your English intonation and voice almost overnight, without learning any rules.
With Frederick, you can instantly compare letter combinations with scrollable wheels to distinguish English sounds like a native. Through fine-tuned listening exercises, you will reduce your accent. It is essential to try it if you want to be understood the first time, every time.
As a result, many sentences will teach you to connect things naturally, like a native, since words often sound different when spoken together. For example, “an apple” is blended naturally into “a-napple.”
4. Practice English Phrases in Context
Next, native English speakers often use phrases and words that have many meanings. Their context helps listeners understand what they mean.
When you watch a movie from start to finish, you can understand English phrases in context.
You learn about the characters, where the story takes place, and what the plot line is, even if you don’t understand all the words or phrases.
A movie that starts in the middle may be more difficult to follow because you are unfamiliar with the characters, their motivations, and the plot.
To learn English phrases you need context. Rather than memorizing word lists, take notes as you hear new words or phrases. This will help you to understand them more deeply.
5. Idioms in English
Many idioms in English are used in everyday conversations – some you may recognize, while others may be unfamiliar to you.
Throughout everyday conversations, books, songs, and movies, English idioms are used all the time.
An idiom is a group of words or sayings that have a figurative meaning rather than a literal one.
It is unlikely that the person who says “This is the last straw!” in an angry tone of voice is referring to the last drinking straw left in the box.
As the speaker expresses in this example, they have reached a breaking point and are unable to handle it anymore.
“The last straw” is another common idiom, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Stacking straw on top of a camel’s back, piece by piece, eventually results in the camel’s collapse. The “last straw” was the straw that caused the camel to succumb.
6. Practice Conversations With Native English Speakers
The best way to improve your spoken English and sound like a native speaker is to converse with native speakers – and lots of them!
Having exposure to a variety of native English speakers will give you more opportunities to learn different accents, vocabulary, and speaking styles.
You can find native speakers online in groups, or through YouTube videos where people discuss topics that interest you, if you don’t have native speakers around you.
7. Discuss topics that interest you
Practicing sounding like a native English speaker is easier when you talk about things you are interested in.
Authenticity and passion will make you sound more like a native English speaker.
If you speak about things that interest you, you’ll learn how to use idiomatic expressions and native-like phrasing in your conversations.
Describe your favorite recipes, cooking techniques, or experiences in your home kitchen if cooking is something you are passionate about.
Join a cooking class where you can discuss your passions with other native English speakers.
With Fluent For Life, you’ll sound like a native English speaker
Now that you have a few tools at your disposal, it’s time to learn English as a FIRST language so you speak like a native!
You can get the natural practice you need, all by yourself, if you’re concerned about making a mistake or people not understanding you.
Since Fluent For Life teaches English as a first language, it helps you sound native and guarantees fluency.