How To Sound Like A Native Speaker

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In the Philippines karaoke machines are everywhere. When you dare visit karaoke bars, you should be scared. What happens inside is a game of thrones. 

People sing as good as the original singer's last hit single. If you're best isn't good enough, you'd better join the clapping audience.

I haven't met any fellow Filipino who doesn't sing at all. I think the world knows how much we love and enjoy singing. 

Some have even made it to international reality television singing competitions such as The Voice, The Singer, and Britain's Got Talent.

But have you ever noticed? Some of these lucky few sing with better accent than they can hold conversations in English. (except for Filipino contenders raised in the US, Australia or the UK.)

You may be wondering why some Filipinos despite speaking in somewhat heavy accent can sing and sound almost like native speakers. Let me tell you. 

And take note that I'm not telling any of this to brag.

Not only do we sing our hearts out, but we also love to imitate the singer

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Not only do we sing our hearts out, but we also love to imitate the singer. We love being complimented singing almost like the original version. 

That's why it's no surprise to hear Filipinos sing with a near native-like accent.

The only downside is most Filipinos are much more exposed to singing than speaking. In fact, you can find locals who can sing not only North American but also Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese songs (F4 fanatics) with little to no accent.

So, what now? Let me get it straight. Singing helps you speak like a native. When the words are ready, imitating the accent, rhythm, and intonations of native speakers becomes easy. 

Depending on your native language though, I am pretty sure you will initially experience trouble reproducing some sounds. 

But after all, what you should care most about is teaching your mouth new ways to move.

Some of my students do not move their mouths like goldfish do. I mean, they don't drop their jaw, move their cheeks, position their lips and tongue proper enough. 

Your native language somehow influences the way you move everything: your breathing, your tongue, your jaw, your cheek, and your mouth. This time around, the language is different. So, stretch them, please.

If you feel uncomfortable doing it, singing will do the trick. When you sing, you control your breathing, you mind your posture, and you move your facial muscles. 

You will naturally acquire the skills necessary to produce the right sound.

This approach to learning English is nothing new, but it is a powerful technique students often overlook. I suggest you get a karaoke app right now!

I started out with nothing: no Internet, no handheld electronic dictionary, no English tutor. Singing has been my only vice. I am sorry, reading rather. 

You are lucky. With both free and premium language software and apps available today, learning English is just a finger tap away.

One of the things I like best about the Internet is how much unlimited English resources you can learn for free. YouTube, for example, offers a wealth of downloadable videos and audio.

I suggest you watch and listen to commencement speeches, interviews, and TEDTalks. You can also find plenty of videos on tongue twisters and audio recordings designed to improve your pronunciation, rhythm, stress and intonation. 

Listen while you drive, while you cook, while you eat, and again while you're on the toilet.

On the other hand, if you prefer to stay in an English-speaking country for a certain length of time, learning may even be quicker. I once had a neighbor who right after graduation from grade school immigrated to Australia. 

In 2011, we met each other again on Facebook. He still looks like he's from our village but now speaks with an Aussie accent. Amazing!

If you immerse yourself in the target language's culture, you will naturally pick up the way natives speak. You'll be surprised how quick you learn when your survival depends on it.

Unfortunately, this practical method is not favorable to everyone. Most people want to save themselves even the price of a plane ticket. As for me, all I can afford is to get myself out of the house and back—oftentimes for free—because I do it by walking.

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