I went to California a few weeks ago. Everyone kept thinking I was a local, so I looked really weird when I was confused by the coins (dimes, quarters and what not).
Glad to see all the recommendations for spee...... oh wait.
Here is the information for a very nice speech thearapist (Australian): http://www.integratehk.com.hk/speech-language. Better yet, why don't you contact the Hong Kong Association of Speech Therapists and ask for a referral to an American speech therapist: https://www.speechtherapy.org.hk/.
Speech therapy might be rather expensive. Another option might be to use Pimsleur English audio courses (you can even maybe find a special tailored version that corresponds with your native language). The key thing about Pimsleur is the way they break down the speech and continually repeat. If you approach it like learning to sing, then perhaps you can open your ear more to the subtle differences of sounds that are being made. I think repetition of hearing sounds and producing sounds would be key to changing your accent.
I also agree that watching or listening to a bunch of TV will help, too! You could even listen to things like NPR radio podcasts (npr.org) for free online (great content, too). Just get some cheap headphones and plug them into your phone!
In general, just be uber friendly and open your mouth up BIG. Pinch your nose when you say vowel sounds. When I was learning German, I found mimicking the shape of their mouth, closing mine a bit more, really helped to make me sound more native-like.
And remember to always say "gooooood!" when you should be saying "well". "I'm doing good! How about y'all??"
Last edited by Elegiaque; 23-07-2014 at 10:57 AM.
I just joined the forum and saw your post. I am a Speech Pathologist and specialize in accent modification. The goal of accent modification is clearer speech and not to remove the accent or have a person sound more "American." We all have accents which is a unique part of us all. We want listeners to focus on our message and not be distracted by the way we sound. Message me for more information.
Hmmm, not quite right -- this Wikipedia entry provides a pretty good summary of the closest thing to a "standard" American accent: General American, which in the early days of television became common among newscasters. As the accompanying map notes,the dialect centers not on Chicago (whose accent is pretty distinctive), but on the state of Iowa, extending east through the Quad Cities and on to Peoria, and west to Omaha and Lincoln. It won over the other dialects because it was inoffensive, carrying neither the "ethnic" (read: Irish and Jewish) overtones of New York (think Bugs Bunny, the Marx Brothers), the pretentions of the old Northeast upper class (think Kate Hepburn or any of the Roosevelts), nor the historical baggage of the South.
I see a couple of speech therapists have replied. Another option might be a dialect coach, such as actors use -- not sure how many of those there might be in HK (or available via Skype).
Speech Therapists are there to correct stutter and other speech impediments. If you want to improve your accent you need a Native English teacher from the US.
Speech Pathologists does so much more than work with speech impediments. Don't be fooled by our title. I always tell my patients/clients if I was given a dollar for every time someone thinks I just work with those with speech impairments, I would be a rich woman However, accent modification is a specialty and it does benefit a person to work with someone that has a background in it. The pronunciation lessons that English or ESL teachers do with students really do not scratch the surface of accent modification. This a separate component which I like to call..."polishing" the English language.
I mean, I don't know about the Iowa part, I've never spent time there. But there is a 'standard' American, which basically means that the person is clearly American but that you'd be hard put to be much more specific, aside from them not being from the South (which isn't quite 'south'- it includes Texas but nothing west of there, along w/Tennessee and Kentucky, which aren't that far south).
A lot of the distinctive aspects of accents in the mid-Atlantic (NY, PA, DC, northern VA) are more common among working-class whites than they are among upper-middle class and upper-class whites in those regions.
The Chicago accent is another thing altogether, nothing to do with "standard" English.
But yes, "like newscasters speak" is often given as the example of standard English.