Thursday, October 27, 2016

5 tips to #ImproveYourAccent

You guys want to know one of the polyglots I admire in the language learning world?  

In this post you'll find out about Luca Lampariello, why I admire his work and achievements with languages, and you'll get 6 tips. Everybody loves tips so here we go! 

Note for English Learners: Go to the bottom of this text to find a list of phrases that you might need help with! Message me on twitter @JustinFrunk if you need more help with anything!

Accent Mastery:
Set your practice Schedule, Be consistent and intensely focused:
Number one, Luca has a great accent in English and Spanish, which are the two languages that I know very well.  I would love to take a peek into his daily practice techniques.  Once I heard him say that he really only spends about forty minutes per day of intensive study on the languages he's learning.  This is awesome news for all of us scaredy cats who can think of a million excuses to not learn a language, one of them being time.  

Be strategic about your accent practice:
I watched a video of Luca Lampariello speaking with Luca Sadurny( )  that talked about #ImprovingYourAccent.  His ideas really challenged the way I thought about accent, and he actually inspired me to make some drastic changes in my teaching methods for ESL accent reduction courses that I offer.  He made the point that intonation is paramount and that we shouldn't miss the forest because we're so focused on the tree.  This was referring to two aspects of an accent which are the intonation and the pronunciation.  Pronunciation is how you utter a sound or a word.  This could be viewed as the tree.  The forest is the flow of the language which fits more into intonation.  He encouraged people to work on intonation first, and then to come back and tweak some of the pronunciation errors.  The point is that you could be saying the sounds exactly right, but if your voice doesn't raise and lower in pitch or pause and speed up in the correct places, you could be saying something completely different!

Be Humble:
Luca comes across to me as very humble.  I say that because he never tends to mention the number of languages he speaks unless someone says, "hey, don't you speak like twelve or thirteen languages?!!" Neither does he go on about how well he speaks those languages or if he acquired them faster than every other polyglot.  

Don't wait for your talent to learn a language for you:  
I was really inspired by this one because we always hear our family and friends say things like.  "Yeah, I don't have a talent for languages... You have to be a genius to learn more than two languages and even the second is too hard for most people."  Luca tends to emphasize that people don't need some special knack for languages to learn to speak well.  He claims that anyone can be a polyglot or learn as many languages as they want.   I agree with him and hope to continue learning more languages throughout my life.  I'm stoked to continue hearing from him about his language learning techniques because I've already started applying them in my own learning and teaching practices.  

Be intentional about your practice:
This tip comes from my own accent practice and it's been extremely helpful. Be intentional about your practice!  Are you really practicing subjects or words that you will use?  Let me give you a personal example, guys.  I get on my computer every morning to practice Portuguese.  You know what I love doing because it's so darn easy?  I love just going on Youtube and listening to someone teach a lesson on random Portuguese vocabulary.  That might be ok for people who are just barely starting out, but let me tell you why random youtube surfing isn't usually your best bet.

Number one, those types of videos usually mess up the intonation because they are isolating a word or a small phrase.  Remember guys, intonation is crucial for natural speech.   

Number two, you aren't being intentional about your practice.  You're just passively listening and repeating vocabulary that you might not really need to focus on.  I try to find podcasts that talk about things that interest me and I look for media that has audio and text if possible.  I listen to everything but I jot down phrases and vocabulary that I know I'll want to use.  

Ready, Rolling, Action, Cut, Retake: 
Don't be afraid to rewind, repeat, repeat and repeat again.  Make sure that you're practicing something that is from a native speaker and choose small chunks of speech to copy.  I usually start with one or two sentences.  I literally listen to those sentences like 50 times or more in a fifteen minute period.  Message me on twitter @JustinFrunk  if you want to know more about exactly how I use this technique to get the most out of it.  

Those are my tips for today guys!  Follow me on twitter, @JustinFrunk let your friends know I'm here to inspire you to speak like a champ, to reach your professional goals by perfecting the American Accent and to share in the language learning journey with you! 

Phrases and Vocabulary Explained:
Take a peek into:  To examine something:  Let's take a peek into the future. 
Scaredy cats:  A person who is afraid to do something.  We also say. "what? Are you Chicken?" 
Stoked: Excited to do something.  Ask me about the literal meaning if you like!
Paramount:  The most important part of a subject or concept.
Fits more into:  It belongs in this category.
Tweak some of the intonation errors:  Tweak means to modify, fix or make something better.
Comes across:  To seem or appear to be a certain way.  Ex. He comes across as very intelligent.
Knack for:  to have a natural talent or ability to do something well. 
Polyglot: Someone who can speak more than five languages at an advanced level. 
Mess up: distort or destroy something
surfing:  To view things on the internet without a clear purpose.  Ex: What are you doing?  Nothing really, just surfing the net. 
Jot down:  write a brief note about something. 
Chunks: parts 
I literally listen...: We use the word literally in casual conversation to emphasize or intensify a statement.  In this case I truly wanted to tell you that fifty times was a good amount to repeat a sentence, but sometimes people say things like, "The spider was literally as big as a house."  Obviously this is not an accurate description but it helps the listener to imagine a very big spider. 

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