If you have ever worked with me or watched any of my lessons, you will often hear me preach that frequent repetition practice is the ONLY way to truly master a new accent.
And it’s true. Why?
Just like learning to throw a baseball, or learning to dance, or even learning the words to a new song, after some practice, you can do it without really thinking about it.
Incidentally, when you learn a new song, you usually acquire the accent of the person singing it without even trying.
For example, can anyone sing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady without the accent? All those glottal stops? So much fun.
Or “Friends in Low Places?” Without that twangy Garth Brooks accent? Really? I don’t think it’s possible.
This is muscle memory at it finest.
Understanding muscle memory is SO important for learning or teaching accents. I always take the time to reinforce this with my students. They need to understand that daily practice is essential for accent reduction or learning a new accent.
Here’s the example that I use with my students and it really seems to drive home the importance of frequent daily practice.
I say to them…
“Have you ever been asked for a password and not been able to remember it or say it out loud, but if someone puts a keyboard in front of you, you type it in without any hesitation? That’s muscle memory!!”
This actually just happened to me the other day when my husband asked for my Amazon password.
I couldn’t tell him what the password was but when I went to my computer, my fingers just typed it in!!! I had completed the action of typing in the password so many times that my fingers remembered, even when my mind didn’t!!
Training your speech is the same way.
Frequent repetition trains your body to remember what to do, even when you are not actively thinking about it. So even though repetition practice is not the most exciting part of pronunciation training, accent reduction/modification, or learning a new accent or dialect, it is really is the most effective way to get real results.
Keep up your motivation by imagining that day when your new accent comes out of your mouth and you are not even thinking about it!
It is possible, but only with practice, so teach your students about muscle memory!!!