Indian Accent Reduction — fast and visible changes

If you are from India and have spoken English all your life, there is still the possibility that people around you in the USA have trouble understanding what you say – especially on the phone.
1. Speak slowly! This action alone will eliminate many miscommunications.
2. Watch out when you say words that begin with a /w/ or a sound the letter /w/ makes, such as, the word /one/. If you pucker your lips like a fish, and your lips don’t touch any of your teeth, the correct /w/ sound will come out. Practice the basic words you say on a continual basis – what, where, when, why, which, etc.
3. When you say words that being with /v/, make sure that you are making the right sound by putting your upper teeth on your lower lip and then saying the words -vintage, village, voice, VC, Silicon Valley, and so on.
4. Don’t speak through your teeth -open your mouth so that sounds can come out clearly.
5. Put your tongue between your teeth when you say a word with a /th/ in it – the sound /d/ for /th/ doesn’t sound educated. For example, say /then/ instead of /den/ or /though/ instead of /dough/.

6. The long vowels in English take longer to say than the short ones – i.e., there is a distinct difference between /bet/ and /beat/. Therefore, if you hold that word with the long vowel for just another moment when you say it, /take/ not /tek/ – people can figure out to which word you are referring.
7. Don’t swallow words that don’t carry the main meaning in a sentence. For example, all words should be enunciated clearly in “this is a great opportunity,” including the (main) word /opportunity/, which in American English, has five syllables.
8. Take care with the short /o/ sound, so it is a /caller/ not a /color/.
9. Learn which parts of a word take the stress and which ones don’t –profile, percentage, permanent, additional, etc. Usually, if the word is a noun, the beginning letters will be stressed. If it is a verb, the stress is on the end syllable. Examples: the record – to record, the project – to project. There are web sites which can teach you the rules, or come and see me and I can practice the intonations/stresses with you.
10. Avoid using the words /basically/ and /so/ all the time. I know these are nice fillers and give you time to think, but it’s just as bad as if you were starting every sentence with /eh/ or /um/.

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