“How much should I practice to reduce my accent?” is a very frequently asked question from my clients.
To answer this question, we first need to understand the principles of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form new connections, and is the mechanism behind our ability to learn.
Accent modification is a sensorimotor skill learning process, where the brain learns a set of movement components, consolidates the new brain patterns, then performs them automatically in spontaneous speech.
There are two types of practices that lead to the acquisition of a new motor skill – mass practice and distributed practice.
Mass practice sessions are long or organized in close succession, for instance, practicing for an hour on a Saturday, with little or no breaks.
In contrast, distributed practice sessions are broken up into shorter sessions and spread over a more extended period of time, such as practicing 15-minutes per day.
There is extensive research supporting the effectiveness of distributed practice over mass practice in acquiring and retaining new skills.
If you play a sport or a musical instrument, you’d be able to relate to the advantages of distributed practice. Many theories attempt to explain why shorter, more frequent practice leads to superior results. I’m sure the reasons behind the distributed practice advantage are complex and multifaceted. My theory? Distributed practice leads to less fatigue and therefore keeps the muscles and the brain in a more optimal state for learning.
With my clients, I always advise them to practice for 15-minutes per day. With as little as 15-minutes of commitment per day, using the techniques and materials I give, accent change is not only possible, but inevitable. Consistency is the key to success, which is often easier said than done. For strategies on how to achieve consistency, refer to this post.
Ready to discover a world of new opportunities as a confident speaker? Reach out to me today for a 30-minute complimentary consultation.