Whenever we are learning something new, we transition through stages of development. These stages have been highlighted and demonstrated in many different fields, like childhood for instance, or sports or business.
What many are yet to examine and understand are the stages of development in changing your accent. How far along the path of attaining fluid, elegant speech are we? Let’s explore…
Stage 1 – The Alien
Your first ever encounter with accent reduction can cause quite a bit of confusion. You are diving into the sounds, syllables, breath patterns, mouth reshaping, tongue redirecting. This is the gateway to the unknown and you are the alien.
Stage 2 – White Belt
You have arrived. The point at which you have accepted the path you’re about to take is now. You’re equipped and ready for the discomfort, the embarrassment, the laughing, the changing of voice, the breaking of habit, the singing of songs. As a novice, you give it your best shot.
Stage 3 – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Have you ever worked out really intensely in the gym and woken up the next morning feeling beaten and broken and sore as hell? Your mind, your facial muscles and your lungs will appear to go through a “DOMS”-like experience when you spend a while trying to change your accent. At this stage you’re not sure if the soreness is a good or a bad sign. At this stage it is so easy to stop pursuing your accent goals. You can’t imagine going through stage 2 again whilst you’re at stage 3 soreness. At this stage you make the choice to take the leap or never.
Stage 4 – Recovery
You have made the leap and left behind the doubts, worries and fears. The recovery stage of learning symbolises your will to persevere. Changing your accent is now ‘a thing’ you have made a commitment to and you are proud of this choice. Your practice increases, your delivery improves, you begin to notice the mistakes you and others make.
Stage 5 – Transformer
This is a tricky stage and I’ll tell you why. At this stage you can easily access the new accent you are trying to learn. Your mind has remembered the lessons and your facial muscles have also remembered how to make new sounds. It is easy for you to ‘put on’ an accent, almost like trying to imitate a famous character in a story. You feel confident in your new skill and secretly show it off when you can however there is still one last step to make and you are almost, almost there. The reason why this stage is not the end is because at times of mindlessness your old accent slips out, when you are stressed, angry, tipsy or too serious you slip back into your old speaking patterns.
Stage 6 – Becoming
How do you know your accent has changed? Well, your new accent matches your personality. You have not only learnt this new skill but you have owned it and made it yours. You begin to speak without effort, without trying too hard and without needing to remember how to make certain sounds. You now express yourself in a completely different way from before and it is effortless, you are barely even trying because your new accent has become part of who you are and you can easily become identified by it.
All the best,