This article is authored by Andrew Weiler, English Language Learning Coach, Teacher and Author, Director of English Confidence Unlocked, part of the Career Money Life Supplier Community.
If English is your second language, it is common to end up on some kind of plateau. Many
people get stuck on a low-level one but then there are those whose speaking is really quite
good BUT still feel that their job and career prospects are being limited. Accent, expression, confidence even structure can all be elements that are not quite there.
You may have tried many things to get your English to the “next level” at least. Good on you for doing that. If what you have been doing hasn’t worked, you may feel that it is all too hard, or maybe you think you haven’t got what it takes, or maybe you think you are too old!
Let’s look at one of the areas, accent, as a way of going a bit deeper. Accent is one of the areas that can give migrants a hard time. How close you want to get to a local one is really an individual choice. There are various key markers with accents:
- Accent gets in the way of being understood
- Your accent does not get in the way but you feel that you are second rate and this holds you back performing at your best.
- Your accent is close to native-like and you nor the people you talk with feel that it interferes in any way with you being “equals”.
Accent as any other area of speaking CAN be improved to the level you desire, ideally III. It is possible for everyone! The single issue that causes you to be stuck where you are or just progressing too slowly is that you are going about learning/improving in ways that don’t consistently produce results. Simple as that.
Once you take on ways that do produce results, nothing can stop you from moving ahead.
Why do many people get stuck?
MOST, and I mean most people, don’t fully understand that speaking IS a skill. Hence, it cannot be improved in ways that we learn knowledge at school. Memorisation, study, translation to mention a few practices assume language is knowledge. It is not!
Just think of which skill. Did you ever sit down and memorise it or study it? Basketball?
Cooking? Dancing? Nope. We just do not do that. However, most people insist on improving their speaking in this way. Rather than focussing on the primary means to work on speaking, listening.
How would this work in an area, such as accent?
A method to improve
Here is a simple 3 step process to give you an idea of what you need to learn to do:
- As with any skill, the key to improvement is to find what is isn’t working…for you! Without learning to locate YOUR issues ( the smaller the better), consistent and reliable improvement is just not possible.
- Having located it, clearly you need to fix it. Fix it in a way that you know it is closer to native-like. Remember, no one goes from being a local grade dancer to a professional one in one step! Learning to recognise the improvement is critical to this step.
- Having done that, you need to implement a step by step practice regime that will enable you to, finally, use your fix in everyday conversation. Without doing that, the previous 2 steps are wasted.
Just think of learning any skill. There are always steps. So with accent, here are the first few steps:
- One vowel sound by itself
- Sound with one consonant
- Sound with 2 consonants
- Word in a short phrase
- And so on
Once you learn to implement a step-by-step system consistently, each step based on skills, then consistent and reliable improvements are achievable by anyone.
English Confidence Unlock offers a program that:
- does precisely this…teach you a step by step formula for you to implement with any area of speaking causing you concern.
- works to develop your listening so YOU can learn to identify the problems YOU have.
- helps you to develop ways of working with your listening ( and other skills) so you can fix them (and nothing else). All this is done in ways that reflect speaking is a skill!
- ensures, by providing you an easy to learn formula, that whatever you fix you can bring in to your normal speech
Once you can do all this, you are on the road to being able to independently improve your own speaking.