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If English is technically a West Germanic Language, then why do many German speakers struggle with heavy accents? Pronunciation difficulties with English still arise for German native speakers. German and English share origins but they have evolved in two separate directions. As a result, the two languages have a distinct sound code. German and English practically share the same alphabet. The letters look the same, bar the umlauts and the scharfes s. But vorsicht! The sounds are not completely the same. It is important to consider the distinct sounds of English that are not represented in German. Know your weakness and drill sounds you struggle with!

Follow these top tips to reduce your German accent.

How to reduce your German Accent

Below are some suggestions for you to improve your English accent. All of the recommendations are tailored to German native speakers.

German speakers have an advantage. While the German language shares many of the consonants of English there are a few sounds that are missing in your mother tongue. These sounds need to be produced accurately. It is not enough to substitute a “th” with your nearest German target.

Take time to check the following 3 consonant sounds. These sounds are not present in German.These 3 sounds are just some of the many sounds you will need to address to ensure clear English. Speak with us at Voice Science for more information on the other key sounds needed according to a comprehensive accent assessment tailored to your current accent. 

1) TH /ð/

Don’t let the phonetic symbols scare you. This is the first of two “th” sounds in English. It occurs in words like that, this, these, those, then and many more. If there is any sound you wish to fix in your pronunciation, let it be this. This sound is truly English. It is present in so many words that we use all the time. Many of the words for English that serve to build your expression and join sentences will start with this sound. If it is in error, it will really convey a stronger accent.

Try drilling these words and make sure they are correct:

then

father

there

they

weather

2) TH /θ/

Did you know there are two “th” options? This second one needs to be distinct from the first. It occurs in words like thing, thick, three, thoughtful, breath and many more

Try drilling these words and make sure they are correct:

thanks

theme

bother

three

anaesthetic

3) W /w/

Take care! When you have an English word with this letter, don’t decode with German spelling rules. This letter creates a truly English sound that is very distinct from the sound in Wie, Wahrheit, Wohnung. This sound is never pronounced if it is the last letter of a word. Therefore on words like claw, law, grow you should not say this sound.

Try drilling these words and make sure they are correct:

weave

away

wage

tower

Wendy

Be patient and drill your target sounds daily. Find other words that contain these sounds. Make sure you can produce the 5 consonants sounds clearly in all word positions : beginning, middle or end.

girl

See more info on Accent Reduction and English Pronunciation Training on our FAQs about Accent Reduction and English Pronunciation Training at Voice Science Page

Accent reduction takes time and practice. It is not uncommon to still have an accent even after years of expatriate life. An accent can be an asset that sets you ahead. Listeners soon realise you are multi-lingual. Sometimes an accent can interfere with your message. Speech breakdowns can occur and it can be harder to express thoughts clearly to your listener. Don’t give up! Work on your pronunciation weaknesses strategically and practice daily to improve your English.

Many non-native speakers opt to consult with a Speech Pathologist to reduce the impact of a foreign accent.

CPSP-certified

To contact Sarah, Chief Speech Pathologist at Voice Science, for a consultation complete the following:

Voice Science treats from Melbourne to Stuttgart, Zurich, Mannheim, London … wherever you are via our global online service. We also offer face to face consultation via our Melbourne Collins St clinic. 

Diagnostic Accent Assessment

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See more accent reduction tips for non-native speakers here

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©Voice Science, 2017

 

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