Learning an accent is no easy task. Here are my top 5 tips to learning an accent!
1. Practice makes perfect
It's not going to happen over night. It will take practice, hard work and dedication. You are retraining yourself and overwriting old habits. Here's another challenge to put it into perspective. Use your non-dominant hand to open any doors/drawers/bottles and answer your phone with your other hand. It will really challenge you to be conscious of every movement you make.
2. Listen to others
Be interested in how other people speak. Listen to how they sound, what their vowels and consonants sound like. Do they have an accent? This is true especially if an English sound is not in your native language, it is necessary to learn to hear it first or else you won't be able to say it yourself.
If you are alone in your car, use the GPS and try repeating after it. This is a simple and silly way to practice enunciating.
3. Start small
You will not be able to suddenly speak in a new accent all the time. It has to start small; one sound or one word every once in awhile. Just like how you can't expect a baby to run a marathon right away, there are steps to progress. First a baby needs to learn to sit upright, balance on 2 feet, balance on 1 foot, shift weight from leg to leg, take a few steps and then progress to running. You need to learn to be patient with yourself as well.
So you need to set up realistic, small goals. Practice short words or phrases and use these with strangers. Then slowly make those phrases longer. "Hello". "What time is it?". "How are you?".
4. Make it fun
I won't lie. You will get frustrated. You will want to quit or think 'that's good enough' or 'why do I even bother?'. It is important to keep it interesting and fun. Change things up. Learn a British and Australian accent. Learn a Chinese English accent or Indian English accent. Challenge yourself to keep your accent while introducing yourself to someone. Try and say every street name you drive/walk by in an accent. Fun makes the challenge feel engaging and not a chore.
5. Start slow
You will really need to master each step before you can progress to conversational speech in a new accent. It is not as simple as just learning the sounds. You can learn the timing, the rhythm, the stress, and even non-verbal/cultural cues to help too. So take your time to learn each part of the whole picture.