ACCENT REDUCTION EXERCISES
By Georgie Harding – Founder & Head Speech Pathologist
Start Improving Today With These Free Online Accent Reduction Exercises
Improve your English pronunciation and English accent with these fantastic ESL accent reduction exercises with voice recorder. You’ll improve your:
- Word Stress & Emphasis
- Weak Vowels
- English Vowels
- Spelling & Pronunciation Traps
What are accent reduction exercises? Accent Reduction Exercises are specific activities for people who speak English as a second language. They give people practice pronouncing English sounds and stress patterns to help them improve English pronunciation. Try these 4 accent reduction exercises on stress, weak vowels and more.
What Is Your Reason For Doing Accent Reduction Exercises?
Which description sounds most like you?
I want to speak English more clearly. My English is sometimes unclear so people ask me to repeat or I can tell they have to concentrate to understand me. I want to speak English that is easily understood by others. I want accent reduction exercises that will help me be clearer.
I want to sound more like a native speaker. People understand my English easily. My pronunciation is clear but I want to sound more like a native English speaker. I want esl accent reduction exercises that will help me sound more like a native English speaker.
Whichever description best fits you, use these free accent reduction exercises online to improve your English pronunciation and clarity.
We’ll cover 4 key areas that are important for speaking clearly in English AND sounding like a native English speaker.
Accent Reduction Exercises on 4 Key Areas
Complete the accent reduction exercises below to start improving these four key areas that affect clarity in English:
- Word Stress & Emphasis – research shows this is one of the most important areas for how easily native speakers understand your English.
- Weak Vowels – English has a lot of vowels that are not pronounced fully. These are called weak vowels. Start to understand and use them to improve your word stress.
- English Vowels – there are single vowels, double / diphthong vowels and long vowels in English. Are you differentiating between them?
- Spelling & Pronunciation Traps – many English words are pronounced very differently to how they look! Check and correct 15 commonly mispronounced words in English.
1 – Accent Reduction Exercises for Improving Word Stress & Emphasis
Making the correct word stress, emphasis and rhythm of English is a very challenging area for non-native English speakers. Non-native speakers often use word stress, emphasis and rhythm that is too flat or they put the stress in the wrong places. There are two reasons this problem occurs. The first is that you cannot tell by looking at an English word where the stress should be placed. The second reason is people tend to bring the stress pattern their first language into their English.
Research shows that native speakers use the stress and emphasis in an English word to recognise it. When you use flat or incorrect stress, your listener will have difficulty instantly recognising the word. That’s why its VERY IMPORTANT that you work to improve your word stress for your clarity in English.
Start to LISTEN to word stress and emphasis in English words. Many of you will be listening to native speakers around you using the correct word stress all day long – start to learn from them by LISTENING and paying more attention to it. Listen carefully to the up and down of the voice when you listen to native speakers – tune into their ‘pitch’.
Start with this accent reduction exercise video for an introduction to word stress. This will help you hear the word stress and start to think about your pitch and rhythm.
You’ll cover the following words:
product, colleague, suburb, organise.
Become a master of English word stress, emphasis and rhythm with a Speech Active Course that is tailored to your first language.
Accent Reduction Exercises On Word Stress
Listen To The Audio
Record Your Word Stress
2 – Accent Reduction Exercises on English Weak Vowels
As covered in the recordings above on English words stress, every English multi-syllable word has a stressed syllable. English speakers use this stress pattern to easily recognise words. So each multi-syllable word in English has a stressed syllable and unstressed syllables. In the unstressed syllable, the vowel often (but not always) becomes a weak vowel.
For example, in the word ‘support /səˈpɔːt/ the stress is on the 2nd syllable. The ‘u’ in the first syllable become the weak vowel schwa. This vowel is made as this famous English weak vowel is ‘schwa’. It is made with a very weak ‘uh’ sound. In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) it is written like this: /ə/. You’ll hear it in the recordings below.
Using weak vowels helps make the word stress clear to listeners so they can easily recognise the stress pattern in a word. Non-native speakers often pronounce every vowel in English as a full vowel instead of using weak vowels. This sounds like they are putting the same amount of stress or emphasis on each part of the word and as a result their English sounds flat. This makes their words more difficult for listeners to recognise easily.
The skill of using weak vowels takes time so be patient! The key lies in LISTENING! Pay attention to the way native speakers put all the stress on certain parts of English words and the other part becomes weaker. Listen out for schwa /ə/ and practise it in common words with these free esl accent reduction exercises online.
Think about how you pronounce the words below and improve your pronunciation of them with the accent reduction exercise recordings:
Most likely you are already using English weak vowels like ‘schwa’ in many English words and not even realising it!
For example, how do you pronounce the word ‘today’?
Do you pronounce ‘o’ in the first syllable or do you weaken it to ‘uh’. Most likely you are already using ‘uh’ – it should be pronounced with schwa so it’s ‘tuh.day’ or in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) /təˈdeɪ/.
How do you pronounce the word ‘Melbourne’? Do you say ‘Mel-born’ or do you say ‘Mel.buhn’? Most likely you are already using schwa correctly to weaken the unstressed syllable.
It’s like this: Mel.buhn or in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) it’s /ˈmel.bən/. If you are THAT’S GREAT!
It means you’re already weakening some vowels. As you listen to the recordings below, listen carefully to word stress (the up and down of the voice) and relax the other syllables.
Become an expert at English weak vowels with a tailored Speech Active English Pronunciation course.
Accent Reduction Exercises On Schwa Vowel
Listen to The Audio
Record Your Schwa Vowel
3 – Accent Reduction Exercises for Improving English Vowel Sounds
Think about how you pronounce these 3 words:
Are you clearly differentiating between them or do they sound similar?
Try these 3 words:
The words ‘cot’, ‘coat’ and ‘caught’ should sound completely different, with different vowels in each. Are you making the vowels correctly so listeners can easily understand which word you are saying? If you pronounce these vowels incorrectly in your everyday life, your listener will need to use context to work out which word you mean. This puts an extra load on your listener and can lead to communication breakdown.
Many non-native speakers mispronounce English vowel sounds because ……. to be completely honest they are horribly confusing.
English vowels are difficult for learners because of 2 reasons. The first reason is that some vowels in English won’t exist in a person’s first language and the other reason is that you cannot tell which vowel is needed just from the spelling of an English word. This is because English is not phonetic – more on this in the next accent reduction exercise online.
English has short vowels, long vowels and double vowels. While you may not be able to hear and make these correctly right now, It’s important that you start to understand the difference. Listen to all the vowel sounds in English – record your pronunciation of every vowel and compare it to a native speaker.
Start to pay more attention to vowel length in English words.
Start to think, is this a short vowel, is it a long vowel or is it a double vowel?
Listen to and practise all the vowels in English here. Listen to these recordings to start! You will listen to a native speaking pronouncing each and every vowel in English in common words and the best part is you can record your own speech and play it back. It’s a great way to revise the vowels and consonant sounds in English.
Enrol in a Speech Active course to become a master at the vowels that you find challenging in English.
Accent Reduction Exercises On Vowels
Listen To The Audio
cot, caught, coat
Record Your Voice
4. Accent Reduction Exercises – Commonly Mispronounced Words.
English is not a ‘phonetic language’. This means that the spelling of a word doesn’t tell you exactly how to pronounce a word.
For example, there are 5 English vowel LETTERS in the English alphabet but these 5 vowel letters can make 20 different vowel sounds. English also has a LOT of silent letters.
Many non-native English speakers mispronounce words because they look at the spelling and this causes them to pronounce the word incorrectly.
So it’s important to remember that in English, letters are used for writing words and these letters don’t tell us the exact way to pronounce words.
The letters give us clues but they don’t tell us the exact pronunciation. That is one reason why the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is SO helpful for learning English pronunciation.
English words often look different to how they are pronounced and these are TRAPS for non-native speakers!
In total there are 44 phonemes or sounds in English (listen to every English vowel sound and English consonant sound) and only 26 letters in the English alphabet. One great example of when a group of letters make a number of different sounds is ‘ough’. The group of letters ‘ough’ can be pronounced 9 different ways.
Instead of using the spelling of a word to guide your pronunciation, use your ears!
Listen more carefully to the way people around you pronounce words. Get as much listening practice as you can. The more you actively listen to pronunciation, the better you will become at making the right sounds and stress patterns.
Check the pronunciation of a word using the Google Pronounce tool. See how to use Google Pronounce Tool here. Also look words up and check the IPA – the international phonetic alphabet. For example with the Cambridge Online Dictionary.
Correct some commonly mispronounced words right now. We will cover some words that are commonly mispronounced by non-native speakers. These are often mispronounced because the words look so different to how they are spelled. They are spelling & pronunciation traps!
Correct some of these words with these free accent reduction exercise recordings.
Check and correct your pronunciation of:
recipe, salmon, says, suit (rhymes with boot), suite (rhymes with suite), chaos, women, nature
Remember to sign up for our Free online 5 day Accent Reduction Course here. You’ll correct lots of commonly mispronounced English words, improve your word stress and vowels and more.
Accent Reduction Exercise on Commonly Mispronounced Words
Listen To The Audio Files
recipe, salmon, says
chaos, women, nature
Record Your Voice
More on ESL Accent Reduction Exercises Online
It’s fantastic to complete accent reduction exercises that are tailored specifically for speakers of your first language.
See some here:
Accent Reduction Exercises Free Online
Would you like more accent reduction exercises free online? For more easy to access accent reduction practice sign up to our 5 day Accent Reduction Exercises Free Online Course. Over a week we will send you 5 emails with great videos and tips to help you further improve your spoken English and pronunciation skills. It’s completely free and you can start right now.
Would You Like A Full Accent Reduction Course?
To fully master English Pronunciation and learn most effectively, you’ll need more quality guided practise.
Check out our tailored Speech Active English Pronunciation Courses. Each course has been specifically tailored for speakers of different languaged.
Check out our course for speakers of your first language now.
A 6 month Speech Active English Pronunciation Couse will give you the structure you need to successfully move your English speaking skills forward.
Over 6 months, you’ll systematically improve all the areas of your pronunciation needed for correct and clear English pronunciation. You’ll also your listening skills, vocab, conversation skills and confidence too.
Everyone in the world has an accent – in whatever language they speak. It’s one of the wonderful parts of life!
Some aspects of accent have no affect on speech clarity – the pronunciation sounds a little different but it does not cause a problem with how easily others recognise the words they say. Some aspects of accent however DO affect how easily other people understand a person’s English.
If a persons finds that listeners sometimes misunderstand them or they find that listeners have to concentrate to understand them they can improve the parts of their accent to make their English clearer and easier for people to understand.
In my opinion we should all stop using the term ‘accent reduction’ and we should use the term English Pronunciation training instead.
After all, this is all about speaking English more clearly – regardless of what accent you have.
Some people can speak with a very strong foreign accent and still be clear to listeners.
For most people it’s about clarity – not accent!
Which accent is best? The British accent or American accent? Does it really matter as long as you are clear to listeners? Read more on that here.
You may want to repeat the accent reduction activities above a few times – each time you do them you will get better control.
If you have any question or would like to discuss your English speaking goals, please contact us. You can chat with us or message us using our chat widget anytime.
In this article I’ve listed a series of accent reduction exercises to help with improving four main English pronunciation areas, these cover Word stress and emphasis, understanding weak vowels, the importance of differentiating the different vowels in English and finally commonly mispronounced words with recordings to help you check these.
We have a lot more articles on our English Pronunciation blog if you’re looking for more free accent reduction exercises to become more aware of the key areas of English pronunciation and build your skills.
Keep up the great work. Remember – every minute you spend helps.
Enjoy your day.
Georgie and the Speech Active Team.
Accent Reduction Exercises
Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPath) and CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.
Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.
If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence.
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