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How long does it take to reduce your accent?

In this blog post, I'll answer one of the most commonly asked questions my students ask me when they first start working with me.

Quick Answer: it depends. (on you)

I get asked this question by basically everybody in the first session we have. Unfortunately, I can't give you an exact timeline of how long it'll take. It's different for everybody. Some people may pick up a certain sound really quickly while somebody else struggles with it. Mastering the neutral American accent works just like mastering any other skill. It takes time, practice and patience.

How often do you practice?

The more disciplined you are about practicing what we work on in our sessions, the faster you'll progress. This doesn't even require you to spend 2 hours on it daily. I usually recommend multiple bite-sized drilling sessions spread through the day to keep your mind fresh. You don't want this to turn into a chore. You want to keep it as fun as possible so you're able to be consistent over time. Overwhelming yourself with practice sessions that are too intense will lead to burnout. Again, this depends on you. Maybe you work best with 15min sessions. Maybe 30min sessions. Maybe you're so busy that you need to take a different approach like whenever you're stuck in traffic, that's your prime time to practice. Alternatively, you can take just a couple minutes to practice whenever you feel like you have a brief period of time where you don't have anything to do. Maybe you find yourself just scrolling away on your phone without any purpose or maybe you're in the bathroom. I always compare this to having a pull up bar in your apartment. Every time you walk under it, you do a couple of pull ups. If you keep that up, you'll be surprised by how many reps you get in.

Do you re-watch the class recordings?

When you work with me, I record our sessions in Zoom and send them to you afterwards. I know it seems like a big time commitment to rewatch a whole hour of class but rewatching a session, taking some more notes, listening for the notes I'm giving you and if you can hear what I'm talking about is incredibly helpful.

Do you take notes during class?

This one depends. Sometimes people learn perfectly fine without taking notes. Others thrive on notes. I find that my students who take notes usually have a more specific plan of what they want to work on between our sessions. Often, I may make up a drill for you on the spot that you can use to work on your trouble area. This would be something important to write down so you don't forget it the next time you're putting in some work.

How many sessions per week are you having?

This one's crucial. Again, think about mastering a skill. The more time you actively spend on mastering it, the faster you'll progress. This doesn't mean you need to have sessions every day, of course. In my opinion, the ideal session frequency is three times a week. It'll give you plenty of one-on-one time with me as well as time in-between to work on and to solidify what you learned in class. If you're able to, especially as a beginner, three times a week is my recommendation. (when I was in acting school, I had group classes twice a week and one-on-one coaching once a week)

Two times a week is still a fine frequency and tends to be the most popular option. It's a little bit more manageable time-wise (because of family obligations, work, etc) but, of course, we are missing out on that third session. Provided you're putting in the time to drill and hone what we learn in class, this can work well.

Once a week is acceptable. This is usually due to work schedules or a significant time difference between you and me. If you are disciplined, you'll make great progress but it'll definitely be slower than the other two options. Especially for a beginner, I would not recommend once a week. You want to be careful to have as much time with a trained ear as possible when you start because as a beginner you might not always be able to pick up on the mistakes you're making. Our goal in class is to build new and correct habits for the sounds we're learning. We really want to avoid thinking we're forming a good new habit when in reality, in the time we spend on our own, we're forming a new habit that's slightly off. Of course, we'd address that in our one session per week but it's much faster to have that check in at least twice a week.

Any questions? Please don't hesitate to reach out. Want to get started on reducing your accent? Book a session!


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