“I’LL BE GOING BACK TO MY HOME COUNTRY in a month for two months,” someone told me last week, interested in Accent Modification training. “How about I start it now and continue when I get back?” they asked.
“Better to wait until you come back, and start it then,” I replied, as I almost always do.
I recommend that students get started in training/lessons when they have a pretty good idea that they’ll be in the USA for a solid three to six months after getting started. If a student goes back to their home country with only a month or two of lessons under their belt, the likelihood that they will slip back to where they started (or pretty close to it) is very high. This slipping leads to all the things one might expect: frustration, hopelessness about change, lack of confidence, even concern on the part of employers about an employee’s English-based performance..
Of course, sometimes going home suddenly (even for an extended period of time) is necessary. If someone gets started training in the USA and needs to go home before things are solid with their accent modification, here are some of many things to do to help minimize the slippage:
- Plan out where/when to have conversations every day with a native English speaker, whether by Skype, in person, or in an establishment frequented by native English speakers.
- Have access to and use (every day) audio books produced with a solid native American English speaking narrator. Choose topics of interest – librarians are good resources for suggesting books.
- Listen (every day) to American English news, if it’s available – news feeds can be accessed in most areas.
- Talk out loud in English, even if no one is there to talk back. This keeps the mind engaged in the English speaking process. And, of course, listen to what is being said in the process. (Don’t ignore yourself!)
And, of course, bring along notes taken from Accent Modification lessons, reviewing them from time to time to stay on track. Keep the spirits up on return, knowing that catching back up to where one left off, even if things slip, is much faster than making the original changes.
And have a wonderful trip!