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Want to 'neutralise' your accent?

Many deserving candidates lose out on job
opportunities because of their vernacular accent.

Yes, you can. All you need to do is train yourself to
speak English as comfortably and perfectly as you
speak your mother tongue.

How do you train yourself? By inculcating certain
practices in your daily lifestyle. These will get you
closer to sounding like a native English speaker and
equip you with a global accent -- and you will speak
not American or British English, but correct English.

This is the first step to learn any other accent, be
it American or British or Australian.

Lisa Mojsin, head trainer, director and founder of the
Accurate English Training Company in Los Angeles,
offers these tips to help 'neutralise' your accent or
rather do away with the local twang, as you speak.

i. Observe the mouth movements of those who speak
English well and try to imitate them.

When you are watching television, observe the mouth
movements of the speakers. Repeat what they are
saying, while imitating the intonation and rhythm of
their speech.

ii. Until you learn the correct intonation and rhythm
of English, slow your speech down.

If you speak too quickly, and with the wrong
intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a
hard time understanding you.

Don't worry about your listener getting impatient with
your slow speech -- it is more important that
everything you say be understood.

iii. Listen to the 'music' of English.

Do not use the 'music' of your native language when
you speak English. Each language has its own way of

iv. Use the dictionary.

Try and familiarise yourself with the phonetic symbols
of your dictionary. Look up the correct pronunciation
of words that are hard for you to say.

v. Make a list of frequently used words that you find
difficult to pronounce and ask someone who speaks the
language well to pronounce them for you.

Record these words, listen to them and practice saying
them. Listen and read at the same time.

vi. Buy books on tape.

Record yourself reading some sections of the book.
Compare the sound of your English with that of the
person reading the book on the tape.

vii. Pronounce the ending of each word.

Pay special attention to 'S' and 'ED' endings. This
will help you strengthen the mouth muscles that you
use when you speak English.

viii. Read aloud in English for 15-20 minutes every

Research has shown it takes about three months of
daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for
speaking a new language.

ix. Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation

Many people hate to hear the sound of their voice and
avoid listening to themselves speak. However, this is
a very important exercise because doing it will help
you become conscious of the mistakes you are making.

x. Be patient.

You can change the way you speak but it won't happen
overnight. People often expect instant results and
give up too soon. You can change the way you sound if
you are willing to put some effort into it.

Quick tips

Various versions of the English language exist. Begin
by identifying the category you fall into and start by
improving the clarity of your speech.

~ Focus on removing the mother tongue influence and
the 'Indianisms' that creep into your English

~ Watch the English news on television channels like
Star World, CNN, BBC and English movies on Star Movies
and HBO.

~ Listen to and sing English songs. I'd recommend
Westlife, Robbie Williams, Abba, Skeeter Davis and
Connie Francis among others.

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