How do I get rid of my German accent when I speak English?

Most of the answers here seem to suggest in the basic tenor that this is impossible or pointless.

As a German-born Canadian, I see this differently.Becoming an accent “loose” like other aspects of language acquisition requires time investment — including reading my monster response — and realistic expectations, intrinsical motivation, perseverance and goals. You don’t get an accent conjured away. But it is possible to drastically reduce it. I myself speak after more than 25 years in the Anglosphere with no accent recognizable as German, but during my time in the United Kingdom (1993–2000) I was occasionally considered a South African and since then here in Canada occasionally considered a British.

So before you invest a lot of time and energy: What exactly do you expect to be rid of the German accent?

Aims and intentions

I imply, after your question, that it is rather your goal not to be “unmasked” as a German native speaker; less like a genuine English native speaker.Ok. In my mind, this has good social reasons, which should not be trivialised.

In fact, the broader goal of sounding native speaker like is hardly a way past a prolonged immersion in a native-speaker population, especially when you’re younger.Unless you can afford a dialect coach like a professional actor. Laura Kaminski describes the effects of language immersion very well in her answer: Especially regiolekte such as those of Yorkshire or Manchester have peculiarities that have both a foreign and a standard English accent, in the case of the The United Kingdom is the received pronunciation (hereinafter referred to as THE RP), sufficiently overlaying it, e.g. by realising the word but as [b’t instead of the standard [b’t’

Accent causes

Since I cannot possibly know what your English sounds like without a sample of speeches, I can only go far and presuppose general origins of the German accent.The obvious goal of softening an audible German accent a little and making it more difficult for English speakers to locate your way of speaking is quite achievable with an obsession with love for phonetic details.

I shall assume two conditions below; on the one hand, that you already speak passable English and are familiar with the rough pronunciation rules and the (unfortunately) countless pronunciation exceptions, and on the other hand, that you can decipher the phonetic transcription of the IPA.Especially without an IPA alphabet, it is impossible for me to respond in writing to the intricacies of the accent problem.

A foreign tone is achieved in every language by intrusion of phonetic peculiarities of the mother tongue into the target language, as far as this is possible without compromising comprehensibility.This distinguishes a mere tone from simply incorrect pronunciation. The transition between the two can be fluid, and L2 language lessons at school do not always do justice to it.

Because quite frankly: In school English lessons, one usually does not dare to imitate the hopefully good accent of the teacher exactly and replaces the phonephone inventory of the target language as far as possible with that of one’s own, provided the result sounds reasonably correct — with Exception of sounds that differ significantly from the mother tongue and are considered incorrect.Therefore, one already learns to pronounce /th/ as a retroflex [a, as [a/ or [, /w/ like [w and not [v, and /r/. A good English teacher can hardly go through anything else.

However, more subtle differences do not stand out without contact with several native speakers and are usually neglected when learning in favour of linguistic correctness.For to eliminate these microimperfections, together and especially, would reduce English teaching to an unbearably slow didactic level. That is why they are understandably left to exist.

A good approach is therefore to take a step back and to become familiar with the sound of your own mother tongue individually, or tohow it differs from the phonology of other languages. If your german-language sound is dialectally colored — don’t worry, that’s the case with most native speakers; who already speaks chemically purified Tagesschau-German — you should strive to an awareness of the differences to the “norm” without necessarily weaning off your regional accent.

Here are a few examples:

  • Even Hanoverians, I’ve heard gardening pronounce as [a’t’n instead of [‘a’t’n’.
  • Hamburgers do not distinguish between honour and ears; Rhinelanders already.

The first is called [EE, the second is called .e.

  • South Germans often say [d’x, Swiss [d’r’ instead of [d’ for by.
  • Cologneers often do not understand the difference between [A and [A’ .
  • And so on.

    None of the four examples is correct or wrong.These are pure regiolekt-colored allophonia. Like English, German is a pluricentric language, so that one has now refrained from overly prescriptive sound rules; that was different until recently.

    What sounds typical German?

    Five characteristics of the standard (high) German pronunciation have no equivalent in English.However, after more than 25 years in the Anglosphere, I immediately recognize other native German speakers from this. That’s why I’d start here in your place:

    • Pronouncement,
    • Segmentation by glottal closure,
    • Missing or missing

    severely attenuated liaison,

  • Different effects of rhoticity,
  • Other vowel quality in general.
  • Okay, one by one…


    In High German it is said [hant, [ve’k and [la’p for hand, way and body.Outings — consonants at the end of the syllable — are spoken voiceless by standard sound. This is not quite correctly referred to as “hard” in German, hence the term pronouncement hardening. The change to vocality (“soft”) changes only when diffraction (hands, paths orLeiber) by attaching a vowel, but not when attaching a voiceless or vocal consonant(glove, fork,body pain).

    This is different in all variants of English, where vocal outings are not only maintained, but sometimes also realized differently from the typeface.Thus, hand, dog and web are consistently spoken [h nd, [d’, respectively [w’b; the plural ending -s is also spoken vocally accordingly ([h’ndz, [d’z and [w’bz).In addition, the preposition of always [v or [v, to distinguish between off. With is always pronounced [w’ never [w’.

    Pronouncement is very often unconsciously translated into English by German speakers.So, for the accent minimization, get used to consistently vocal pronunciation of the sounds, provided they correspond to the English phonology.


    High German tends to clearly separate morphemes (word components), especially prepositions connected to verbs.This is often done by means of a glottal closure — but this does not apply to all German regional variants. The standard sound for remembering is not [n, not, the latter being considered dialectal, but generally understood.

    German speakers often maintain the habit of very pronounced segmentation in other languages, so that all often in place of [the British city of the City of France (British) or the italian s.l.Most other languages segment significantly less; French is an extreme example of a weakly segmented language. Spanish also has a fairly constant flow of words due to its sinalefa.

    English is more in the middle here.Emphasized segmentation, however, is only too emphatic in English and should otherwise be avoided because it produces an inappropriately pedantic tone and is perceived as too forceful. Werner Herzog speaks this way and consciously or unconsciously evokes the caricature of the lightly teaching, whimsical professor, which is popular with English speakers all over the world; a mad scientistwho always has to be a German.Albert Einstein’s accent also had this characteristic. It is not necessarily an unsympathetic image of a German. But overall it is recommended to use it only self-ironically — which in turn can give you good laughs!

    Therefore, if possible, get used to sticking the last consonant of a word to a vowel at the beginning of a following word, so that it is more like i-tiz BE [‘t’z; AE [sounds, or isn’t it?like izn-tit, or at I?like am-my.

    You have an advantage here if you already speak French or Spanish, or a German dialect with a pronounced liaison such as Ripuarisch (Rhineland) or Schwiizerdütsch.

    Missing Liaison

    English binds words of a prosodic unit to each other, so that the brit.Edwards. silent /r/ -Out of there — isolated [” — is connected to the vowel of the following word: there are become [a, rather than separated, as one often hears from German speakers.

    Try to speak High German.It sounds very difficult!

    These first three characteristics of the German andthe accent of his speakers essentially gives the impression that German sounds harsh or that the German accent sounds a bit brittle and dry.British actors who want to portray convincingly Germans without caricaturing them cheaply get used to the above-looking quirks, which sounds convincing without being condescending — other things belong in the realm of older Hollywood war movies.

    Now there are two rather subtle things that are already dialect-colored in the English language.


    The sound of the /r/ in the outing has fallen silent in both German and British English, but influences the pronunciation of the previous vowel in both languages in different ways.

    In standard High German you can hear a difference in the sound of width and further,which are otherwise a minimum phonetic pair.The first ends in the murmur sound (Schwa) [‘va’t’, while the mute /r/ of the second word darkens the swag ‘sound’ — in Berlinic, one caricatures too fara, which reflects the local pronunciation well.

    In the British RP, on the other hand, bitter ends with a real swag-down sound and contrasts with the German pronunciation of the word completely identical in both languages.A German speaker without knowledge of any other language listens to the British pronunciation rather than please.The realization as [a is another accent feature of many native German speakers in English.

    In rhotic (non-r-swallowing) variants of the EnglishLanguage, on the other hand, fifts the preceding vowel with the retroflex /r/sound, which leads to the characteristic American melody — in Canada, Ireland and southwest England there is the same effect. Thus, bird, word and turn rhottare are pronounced each [b’d, [w’d and [th’n’ .

    Conversely, there are non-rhotic American dialects; New Yoaak and the Boston area (New England Clam Chowdah; Maagaret paaked her caah), but also Louisiana are classic examples of this.Be that as it may, Rhotazism is fairly constant among English speakers; you don’t hear any vacillation between one variant and the other. I would therefore choose a variant in your place and follow its /r/-debate as consistently as far as possible.

    Vocal quality in general

    The IPA vocal trapeze makes it quite clear that vowels of all languages basically exist along a continuous articulation spectrum (source:, with heartfelt thanks):

    The actual vocal sound inventories of the German and English languages are not completely overlapping, although there are regional colourings on both sides.

    Thus, the English lutes do not exist in German; they tend to be replaced with obvious German equivalents, which do not stand in the way of comprehensibility, but are precisely clear components of the German accent in English. German speakers therefore tend to pronounce like [bat, back like [b’k, and bird like [b’d; however, the correct British standard sound is [b’t, [b’k and [b’d respectively.the latter North American [b’d. Arnold Schwarzenegger had two lines of text as Terminator, which he presents with his wonderful Styrian accent; the unforgettable “I’ll be back” is roughly as [‘lb” and ‘I can learn’ approximately as [‘k’n’l’n’.

    Furthermore, — and now it becomes somewhat imprecise — the English closed [u’ in boot or food slightly against [y, is therefore brighter than its roughly identical German equivalent.The sounding of the English However, [a in father and [a in seat is comparatively lower than in the German one.

    The lute of the diphthongs (two vowels with sliding joints) is generally more pronounced in English than in German, where there are only three diphthongs anyway and these sound flaccid.This is how Engl.toy and German expensive each [th’ and [th’ pronounced; site and page each [s’t’ and ‘za’t’, and brown and brown each [b’a’n and [b’a’n. These differences are quite subtle and can be quite starkly different between North America, Australia and Ireland, as well as from an English pub to the next roundabout even within Hertfordshire.SomeAnglo-Canadians, especially from Ontario, have the characteristic-ulkige pronunciation of out and about as well as knife.Australians have a peculiar way of articulating home.And so on.

    Therefore, similar to rhoticity; if available, contact the speakers of your environment.

    Hopefully this phonetic tsunami will give you some suggestions, which may make your German accent and what sound rules of your mother tongue you might want to suppress if you want to sound less German.If you currently have little access to native English speakers, check out movies and TV programs / Netflix regularly in English. The German Macke, to present everything with synchronous translation does not help; the fact that everything in the Netherlands and Scandinavia is shown only with subtitles is a major reason for the generally considerably better knowledge of foreign languages in these countries.

    Good luck!Finally, a few wikis to read more:

    Pronunciation of the German language – Wikipedia

    English language pronunciation – Wikipedia

    Non-native pronunciations of English – Wikipedia

    Accent reduction – Wikipedia

    Procuring – Wikipedia

    Segmentation (linguistics) – Wikipedia

    Rhoticity – Wikipedia

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