Introduction to Accent Neutralization

Accent NeutralizationWelcome communicators! This is our first topic for the course Accent Neutralization. Introduction to Accent Neutralization will introduce you to our endeavor to neutralize our heavy and regionally-accented English speech. Our goal is to ensure that our English comes with a neutral accent, the kind of which every English speaker in the world can readily understand and easily assimilated similar to the ones employed by the Cable News Network (CNN) newscasters.

“Communication works for those who work at it…” ~ John Powell

Introduction to accent neutralization specific topics

  1. Nuances of Accent Neutralization
    1. Accent vs Pronunciation
    2. Accent myths and facts
  2. Components of Accent Neutralization
  3. Ways of acquiring accent
  4. Benefits of a neutralized accent

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this lesson, the students should be able to:

  1. Discuss the nature of accent neutralization and its components.
  2. Explain how a neutralized accent is beneficial.

What is Accent?

Accent is the totality of speech communicative nuance of a person speaking a particular language. Accent is a combination of four components: Intonation (speech music), Liaisons (word connections), Stress (the giving of importance to a syllable or a word) and Pronunciation (the spoken sounds of vowels, consonants and diphthongs). Hence, when an English speaker speaks the English language, the speaker sees to it that all the components are properly exhibited.

In speaking the English language, the speaker, whatever nationality or cultural inclination, owns the language, uses it as a medium to express himself and to communicate his thoughts and ideas. Since all nations use it, the English language has become the property of all, a tool for all to use. The emergence of the so called “World Englishes” has become an excuse of these people to use the English language freely without proper consideration whether they are aptly understood or not. Therefore, to ensure the proper delivery of message or ideas, we need to “neutralize” our accent whenever we speak the English knowing fully well that it is not our first language (mother tongue) to begin with.

By adhering to the standard neutralized accent, the Speaker of English, regardless of nationality and culture will sound “the standard way” and will not be misunderstood by native English speakers.

Accent vs Pronunciation

The main difference between accent and pronunciation is the scope. Accent is wider in scope that it covers even pronunciation itself. In fact,  pronunciation is one of the components of accent. The way you pronounce a particular sound tells something about your accent. The way you pronounce a vowel, consonant and diphthong is one of the keys to acquire an accent. If you use a standard way to pronounce the sounds, your accent will become neutral and more easily understood by the native speakers of English.

Accent myths and facts

As students of accent neutralization, you need to be on guard against these accent myths:

  1. Accent has been equated with pronunciation. This is not true at all. Pronunciation varies from a person to another yet the standard neutral accent is ideally uniform to most extent.
  2. Accent is inborn and not changing. This is a popular misconception. A person, if determined, can change the accent being used. American actors, playing roles of British personages perfectly speak like British! It just takes enough dose of grit and determination to succeed on this accent neutralization endeavor.
  3. Some accents are correct, some are not. The key for accent neutralization is understanding. If your accent is not easily understood, most likely, it is not standard but not entirely wrong.
  4. Only English language has different accents. All languages used by multitude of individuals have varieties of accents depending on people who used them. Even vernaculars have a lot of accents to begin with.
  5. There are ways to learn an accent. Learning to speak on a neutralized accent follows a rigorous path but not entirely meticulous and laborious. One has to be determined and disciplined to speak the language on a regular basis in order to get the actual rhythm or “tune” of the language. One must be persistent and diligent in order to get that “neutralized” accent.

Components of Accent

The diagram below shows the four component of accent.

The four components of accent.
The four components of accent.
  1. Pronunciation is the proper way of enunciating the phonemic elements of phonology such as vowels, consonants and diphthongs. This encompass the accurate way of enunciating the vowels, consonants and diphthongs.
  2. Stress is the putting of importance or highlighting a particular syllable within a word (syllable stress) and a particular word or words within a sentence (sense stress) during speech. This include the proper stressing of syllables and words in order to get the intended message received by the listener. As the stressing is changed,  so as the meaning of a particular word, or the meaning of the entire sentence.
  3. Liaisons refer to the linking and blending of words used within a sentence including the stops and pauses during speech delivery. This include the linking and blending of words together in a connected speech as well as the proper use of pause and pausing during speaking or speech delivery.
  4. Intonation refers to the rising and falling or voice in a connected speech. The intonation is the melody or rhythm of the English language. The intended meaning of a statement likewise changes if the intonation changes.

Ways of acquiring an accent.

Accent can be learned in the same way that you have your current speaking accent. This course intends to help you learn how to neutralize your English speaking accent. Here are some ways to help you learn how to neutralize your accent:

  • Develop and enhance your perceptive listening skills. Speaking and listening go hand in hand as you listen how people pronounce words accurately, the tendency is, you  speak the same words exactly as how you heard them likewise.
  • Accurate imitation reinforced by  constant and intensive practice. Imitate how different sounds, pauses, links, stresses, and intonation patterns were executed and listen to yourself doing it in the process. If you can’t initially get it, don’t lose hope. Nothing beats a persistent worker.
  • Choose good speakers who can really speak Standard English effectively and flawlessly. You should be able to develop a careful appreciation for good speakers and be able to transform this appreciation into willingness to learn and improve your spoken English. Use your role model as your guide in crafting your own English-speaking personality and not to settle down as an imitator of that someone you chose.
  • Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet by heart. This international standard on pronunciation will guide us on how to properly pronounce words especially new words whose spelling patterns are different from their pronunciations. You can get to the IPA website by  clicking here.

Why is there a need “neutralize” one’s accent?

There is this video from YouTube which features a certain lady named “Lyn” trying to promote or advertise a certain agency (Las Vegas Models) and they are accordingly hiring. Try watching the video and figure out her speaking “accent” vis-a-vis her over-all message to the viewer.


The reference listed herein are available in the library of TIP Quezon City and mostly available on-line. Our course does not require you to purchase any of these nor download them on-line. You may consult any other references to suit your needs as you are free to explore various resources to complete your accent neutralization experience.

  • Yates, Jean. (2013). Pronounce It Perfectly in English. 3rd Edition. Barrons Educational Series.
  • Ladefoged, Peter. (2011). A course in Phonetics. Cengage Learning.
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos. (2011). Understanding Phonology.
  • Mojsin, Lisa. (2009). Mastering American Accent (E-book Version) Barrons Educational Series.
  • Cook, Ann. (2000). American Accent Training Second Edition. Matrix Press.

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