Using Your 3 Senses to Modify Your Accent
I want to talk to you about your senses. Most people know that humans have five senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Sight corresponds to our vision and how we see the world around us. Hearing affects how we hear sounds, music, and noises. Smell helps us distinguish the different aromas and odors from our environment. Taste helps us decide whether something is sour, spicy, sweet, or bitter. Touch makes us feel pressure, temperature, vibration, pain, and other sensations through our skin’s neurons. Since humans have such sharp senses, we can use them to our advantage when modifying our accents.
Here are three ways in which you can use your senses to change your accent.
USING YOUR HEARING TO MODIFY YOUR ACCENT
Using your hearing is key to differentiate the different sounds of the language you are speaking. It helps us to hear the stress, the different sounds, the intonation, the rhythm, to name a few. Our hearing plays a significant part in us being able to distinguish between other languages and whether someone is a native speaker or has an accent. Use your hearing to your advantage and pay attention to your environment and how certain words are pronounced and how native speakers use stress to emphasize what they say. This is key to understanding how our desired language is used and how we can learn to use it in the same way.
USING YOUR SIGHT TO MODIFY YOUR ACCENT
Our sight is critical in understanding our environment. From the moment we wake up, we use our vision to navigate our room, find our toothbrush, and make that fresh coffee cup. It’s natural that our sight also plays a significant role in learning a new language. We can see how people communicate, how they use their lips when pronouncing certain words, and how their body changes when talking about pleasant vs. unpleasant things. Use your sight to observe how native speakers use their bodies and how their lips and tongue move when speaking. Your sight is essential in understanding your new language and will help you learn how to speak it like a native.
USE YOUR TOUCH TO MODIFY YOUR ACCENT
The sense of touch is perhaps not the obvious sense when we think of accent modification. However, it also plays a key role here. In particular, the sense of touch in our mouth or the oral somatosensory system. Our mouth is extremely innervated and contains different tissues, such as skin, teeth, and muscle. These tissues interact with each other when we speak. For example, when making the “f” sound, we approximate our teeth to our bottom lip. These sensations are extremely important to understand when learning to pronounce the sounds of your new language correctly. When I was modifying my accent, it was difficult for me to learn to produce the “th” sound. That’s because I don’t have this sound in Polish. Understanding the placement of my tongue in relation to my teeth helped me learn this sound quicker, making my accent sound more American.
Our senses play a crucial role in learning a new accent. Our hearing helps us differentiate how sounds are pronounced, the language’s intonation, and its stress. Our sight helps us see how certain words are pronounced and the body language of native speakers. Our touch helps us understand how our muscles, teeth, and lips need to move to pronounce our new language correctly. Use your senses to your advantage when modifying your accent. Practicing and frequent exposure is crucial to alter our accents effectively and relatively quickly. Find three exercises utilizing your senses to help modify your accent below.