In the past, there was an objective to have all English-speakers sound “British or American.” This focus has changed as the recognition of English as the International language of business, academia and travel has grown.
Now, it is accepted and celebrated that English has many sounds. The English heard in the streets of New Delhi, for example, will sound quite different than the English you will hear in other parts of the world.
Since Canada is a diverse country made up of people from all over the world, the sounds of Canadian English are as diverse as the population!
Why talk about accent reduction then?
Because we need to be able to understand each other. This need for clear communication is relevant in all aspects of our daily lives: at work, at home, in the community.
The overall objective is the production of spoken English which leads to CLEAR COMMUNICATION, in other words, understanding is achieved.
If you struggle with this, the following approach can help:
- Join an English conversation club at a local public library to practice producing understandable English conversation (many libraries also offer free English tutoring services)
- Practice with native English speakers – ask them to correct any errors in your pronunciation
- Look for a Pronunciation/Accent Reduction class as part of Continuing Education for adults at the Public School Board in your neighbourhood (example: “Accent Reduction: Speaking Clear English” Vancouver School Board, The City of Surrey’s “Free English Conversation Programs)
- Check “Accent Reduction” resources available from a variety of sources. (examples: L2 Accent Reduction Centre in Vancouver which also offers tutoring via video streaming, the YMCA is a great starting point for language support services)
- Most importantly, the language learners who progress most rapidly are those who are willing to take risks, therefore try not to be fearful of making mistakes and keep talking – “practice does make perfect!!”
Cindy Cook is Drake Medox College’s lead English instructor offering both current and prospective students with the support they need to achieve their career goals. To learn more about our English programs you can contact Cindy @ 604-629-0196.