Speaking of Accents....
I was recently watching a British quiz show that featured a bird imitating car alarms, camera shutters and chain saws with uncanny accuracy. I decided to do some research on this bird thinking that it must certainly be a hoax. What I discovered was a fascinating and extreme example of the ability to listen to and imitate sounds that immediately appealed to my curiosity as a Speech Pathologist and as a specialist in the field of accent reduction and English pronunciation.
The Lyre Bird is an Australian ground dwelling bird that is famous for its extraordinary ability to mimic both natural and artificial sounds that it hears from its environment. It’s own song consists of seven elements and additionally any number of other mimicked songs and noises. The Lyre Bird can imitate almost any sound ranging from Koalas and Dingos to rifle shots, dog barks, crying babies, music and even the human voice speaking English. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Superb_Lyrebird#p004hgk8.
What struck me as most notable was the fact that the Lyre Bird sings for at least four hours a day, and that it takes young birds about one year to perfect the mimicked repertoire from their local environment. These facts actually highlight what we tell our clients at Change Your Accent. For successful English pronunciation it is essential that you do the following:
Listen and observe - training your ear will help you to imitate not only words and English pronunciation but also the sound and rhythm of speech. This is essential for accent training.
Practice, practice, practice - the more you practice your new English speaking skills, the more your confidence will grow and the faster your English pronunciation will improve. Plan to practice your new English speaking skills at every opportunity for a minimum of one hour daily.
Be social and interact in your environment - by being social, you will practice your speaking skills more and enjoy yourself more, which is critical for your success. By participating and being social in your local environment, your English pronunciation will become better and you will succeed.
The Lyre Bird obviously has exceptional abilities but it still needs to listen and observe, practice and be aware of it’s environment to perfect its repertoire. While we may never be able to mimic chain saws or camera shutters like the Lyre bird, we can take inspiration from it’s practical approach to English speaking practice when learning a new accent.