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What exactly do accent coaches do to help with your accent? For the sake of this question, let's assume the L2 is English, and the learner wants to sound like a native speaker (or as close as possible) of American English. I'm sure the overall strategy may differ depending on the student's L1, but, in general, how will the accent coach work with the student to help them achieve a good accent?

Ideally, an actual accent coach or someone who has worked with an accent coach will be able to provide insight.

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A particular accent coach that helped me to improve my English accent did the following:

Established the scope of work

  1. Based on my first language, the coach already had a list of pronunciation mistakes that people of the same language background make.

  2. I was asked to read aloud a sample of text, so that the coach could make additional observations specific to my case.

Taught proper pronunciation for identified mistakes

  1. Training sessions were scheduled weekly. Each training session was dedicated to 2-3 mistakes. Then I had time to practice in real life.

  2. The coach explained how I pronounce the word/phrase and how it should be pronounced. The coach was able to demonstrate my accent mistakes by mimicking my accent and exaggerating it.

  3. The coach gave exercises to practice proper pronunciation. I was trying to change the way I say things. The coach was listening and correcting and tuning my pronunciation. The recommendations included position of tongue, teeth, mouth, etc. Vocal examples of how I should sound. The coach drew my attention to close pairs, such as "cloth" vs. "clothes", or "hill" vs. "heel".

  4. After every 4-5 sessions the coach re-evaluated the progress.

UPDATE: Most of the work was focused on vowels. Consonants are pronounced fast, hence there are not many ways to do it wrong. Vowels are much longer. Mistakes in vowels are very easy to notice. Difference in vowel pronunciation is what makes the accent.

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