Australia is a multicultural country, and each city has communities of people from all over the world. This means that when you are walking around your home town you are likely to hear many different languages as well as accents.

If you have a strong or broad accent, you may sometimes feel like life would be simpler if you could speak more clearly.

The reasons for this can be different for everyone, but many people feel this way about their professional life especially.

It's important to remember, however, that there is no blanket Australian accent. Since the country was founded, Australian citizens have come from every corner of the globe each bringing a unique culture and their own accent, but since they are Australian - They all have an Australian accent.

Basically, you shouldn't feel ashamed of the way you speak or how your accent sounds compared to those around you so much so that you feel like you need to change your accent.

However, if you do feel like your accent is holding you back professionally or personally and wish to make strides to change this, you may wish to consider accent reduction.

There are a number of ways you can go about this, from working with a private tutor, taking an online or in-person training course, or even just practising yourself with resources at home or by having conversations with native Australian English speakers.

Australia is a multicultural country with a hard to define accent
Australia is said to have 3 main types of accent, but in reality any citizen of Australia has an Australian accent (Source: Pixabay)
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Is Accent Reduction The Right Choice For Me?

Before diving into accent reduction lessons, it's important to carefully consider if it is the right move for you. Your accent is a unique link to your culture and ancestry and isn't something to be given up lightly.

However, if you have noticed that your accent is holding you back that it could be more beneficial to consider accent reduction training.

This could be to do with your professional life; Perhaps you feel like you are overlooked during interviews because of how you speak, or maybe you struggle to communicate effectively with your clients or colleagues at work?

This can be especially true if your work involves using the telephone a lot as it is harder to speak clearly over the phone anyway!

Other than your professional life, there are a few other main reasons that people seek out accent reduction training:

  • Personal Life - To communicate clearly with friends and family
  • Confidence - To build confidence in public speaking or just talking amongst friends
  • Day to Day Life - Speaking clearly and being understood can make life easier anywhere from the bank to the doctors' surgery
  • Rude People - Unfortunately some people are still quite ignorant in how they view the world and can be unnecessarily rude and prejudiced towards those with strong or foreign accents

Of course, everyone is different and will have their own personal reasons for wanting to reduce their accent, but these are some of the main reasons people look into it.

In a professional sense, accent reduction can be very beneficial to your career and work-life - From ease of communication with clients to opening more doors of opportunity for you.

The same can be said for Australian's who have broader accents than most, realistically people with accents like these can run into the same problems as non-native English speakers too.

Need to brush up on your English language skills as well as your pronunciation? Learn more about online ESOL classes here.

How Accent Reduction Might Affect Your Grasp On the English Language

If you have learnt to speak English as your second or even third language, the way you understand or pronounce certain things may be linked to the way you learnt about it.

For example, if you learnt English at school in your home country, you may have been learnt it from someone who has an accent similar to yours. This can make it a bit harder to then go on and learn from resources or a teacher who sounds completely different!

Alternatively, you may have learnt English through available resources or by watching movies and TV. Whilst this is a great way to learn, much of film and TV is quite Americanised which may become a hindrance if your goal is to achieve an "Australian" accent.

When you are learning new words, sounds, vowels, and pronunciation - Your brain may have come up with a specific way to remember this and recall the information, whereas if you relearn the pronunciation these links might not work so well anymore and it might take you a while to adjust to your new knowledge.

This is true for any learnt behaviour though and doesn't mean that accent reduction should be dismissed as too hard or confusing.

With enough practice and training, you can master the new sounds and pronunciations of whichever accent you would like to take on.

If you feel like the benefits outweigh the effort that is required for accent reduction, don't hold back from making a start to improve aspects of your life.

Word stress can be a big issue for ESL speakers
Word stress can be a pain when public speaking or just chatting with friends. You might forget which sounds to make or which vowels to enunciate, accent reduction training can help this (Source: Pixabay)

A Few Tips To Get You Started

Below are five helpful tips to get you started on your own, if you're looking for some more you can find them here.

1) Practice Difficult Words and Phrases Slowly

A big issue that people face when trying to master the pronunciation of the English language is speaking too quickly.

Australian English has many distinct sounds and intonations that can be hard to grasp immediately, and whilst many languages tend to be spoken fast Australian English is one you should take a bit slower.

Slowing down your speech can allow you to tackle each syllable of a difficult word individually, ensuring that you emphasise the right parts of a phrase to get your meaning across. Whether you are asking a question or making a statement will make a difference in the intonation of your words, amongst other things.

An example of slowing down your speech for proper pronunciation can be seen between American and Australian English with the word Aluminium. Americans will speed through the word and say "A-loo-min-um" whereas Australians and British speakers would pronounce each syllable fully, like "A-lu-min-i-um".

2) Watch TV and Movies in The Accent You Wish To Learn

One of the best ways to pick up a language and accent is to watch or listen to media in that accent. Hearing other people talk in a cultivated Australian accent will give you a good idea of how the sounds of their voice work.

Without the pressure of responding yourself, you can hear the sounds that are made within the accent, hear where the pitches and intonations of words and phrases rise and fall, and even get a grasp of Australian slang and local dialects.

Australia doesn't have the biggest film and TV industry in the world, but there is still a lot of quality movies and shows for you to watch and gain some insight from.

3) Speak With Native English Speakers Who Have The Accent You Are Aiming For

Another great way of learning a language and accent is to have conversations with people who sound like that. This can come naturally from talking with friends, or you can seek out people to grab a coffee and have a chat with.

Talking to people in person can be very beneficial as you can watch the shapes that their mouth makes when they make a certain sound or pronounce a difficult word, rather than just hearing a sound and trying to recreate it.

More often than not, you will find people who are happy to converse with people as a language swap, cultural exchange, or just for good company.

Podcasts can teach you pronunciation wherever you are
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to get comfortable with an accent and it's sounds - and you can listen to them on the go or wherever you are! (Source: Pixabay)

4) Listen To Podcasts and Audiobooks

Similar to watching TV and movies with Australian accents, you might want to find some podcasts or audiobooks that interest you to listen to in your spare time.

Again, hearing the accent you are aiming for will improve your understanding of pitches and sounds, pronunciation and intonation.

5) Be Mindful of Differences Between Australian, American, and British English

Despite all speaking the same language, there are some distinct differences between the English spoken in Australia, America, Britain, and other parts of the world. There is famously a lot of variety in British accents, ranging greatly in a small country, within the same county (comparatively tiny to Australian states) you could find people with very broad accents as well as quite cultivated accents.

This will again depend on which accent you want to achieve throughout your training, but if you know you are aiming to have a cultivated Australian accent, it is best that you use Australian resources to help you along your journey.

This means watching Australian made film and TV, listening to the local radio, attending classes lead by an Australian instructor; Even reading books written by Australians can help you pick up the slang and get a feeling for how the conversation flows.

Accent Reduction Classes

If working on your accent yourself isn't getting results, or you've exhausted all of your resources, it might be time to think about working with a professional. For this you essentially have two options:

  • To take a training course either online or in-person
  • To work with a private tutor

Both options have merit and it is up to you to decide which is the best course of action. You might consider how much time you have to commit to lessons each week, how much you are willing to spend on your lessons, your personal style of learning, and how quickly you want to achieve your results.

Training courses will usually be instructor lead classes either via webcam or in a classroom, but you can also access self-taught lessons through some training institutes. Classes are normally tailor-made to an individual, based on your proficiency in English and pronunciation.

Working with a tutor is an easy, and usually cheaper, way of improving your accent and getting results fast. You can book your lessons arranged to your schedule so that you always have time to do the things you need, and can rearrange if necessary.

With Superprof, it's easy to find a tutor in your local area or online that can give you the help and support you need. No matter what you decide to do, stay confident and have fun!

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Sebastian

I am an Englishman living in Melbourne. I have a passion for travelling and exploring the world. I love photography and spending time in the fresh air. I have worked as a chef for a number of years and would preferably eat a Sunday roast for every meal.