Routines. What’s your routine for working on accent modification, or how you speak in English?

I’ve been thinking a lot about routines as winter break is approaching the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where I teach. Most of my students (international teaching assistants) are frantically working on class projects; grading undergraduate exams; gearing up for qualifying exams; and preparing for their outtake Performance Evaluations. The academic calendar will soon shake up the daily routines of students, professors, and teaching assistants. Time for winter break!

Benefits of a routine

Breaking one’s routine is great for regeneration and renewal of personal and thinking energies. No doubt about it. When it comes to working on your English pronunciation, however, I recommend not taking a break. I recommend keeping with some kind of routine for working with your speaking skills in English.

Why? I think that keeping a routine encourages a sense of familiarity. You are less likely to resist the practice needed for ongoing improvement as this sense of familiarity develops. As you speak, you are more likely to pay more attention to how you speak; as others speak, you are more likely to pay attention to how they speak. Consistent practice, self-monitoring, and awareness are smart steps to adjusting one’s speaking in real-time conversations, meetings, presentations, etc.

Develop your self-monitoring routine

Why not develop your English pronunciation/speaking routine by personalizing it? Think about the following:

  • What to use? Technology? Pen and paper? Mirror? Other people? A combination of these? You decide. Make it personal, and use something that makes sense to you.
  • How often? Daily? Four times/week? Twice per day?
  • For how long? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour?
  • What time? En route to work or home? Over lunch? 6 a.m.? 3:00 p.m.? 10 p.m.?
  • Where? On the bus? At work? At home?

What kind of routine makes sense for you? How can you make it realistic and engaging? Look beyond the course or workshop that you are taking to improve your spoken English. Apply what you are learning, and develop your own self-monitoring routine. Just make sure that it makes sense for you.

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