I have been in New York for nearly 15 years and as a photographer I have been lucky to meet many people and make great friends from all around the world (Thanks, Big Apple).
People say that if you have been in New York for more than 10 years, you are a New Yorker. Okay, I love the idea of being considered a New Yorker but here is my problem. My tongue muscles are still not functioning as they should be, my Japanese accent is really HEAVY! I studied English in college, learned at work and from friends, and took additional English pronunciation classes. Yes, they helped but I realize that some people still have hard time to understanding me. If it's friends, I usually tell them to hang out with me more so they can get used to my accent. If its work, I tell them to hire me more often so they can understand me better. I suppose I’m lucky that I’m a photographer and essentially I can use my photographs as a visual language.
There are so many non-native English speakers in New York. I hear all different kind accents everyday, so I may not need to care too much about my accent but I stillwant to improve and reduce it. Maybe it’s too late to build English speaking muscles but is there a way I can sound clearer and understandable to everyone?
So here is the method I come up with: when I speak Japanese, I imitate accents of non-native Japanese speakers whose first language is American-English. If I can sound like them in Japanese, I can sound like them in English as well? This is probably a dumb idea but I want to see how it goes. Learning languages should be fun, right?