I’ve been trying to reduce my American accent when speaking French. I tried taping my voice and playing it back, but that didn’t help. I couldn’t actually tell that I had a strong accent by listening to myself. My own voice is just too familiar to me. Then Malecki told me about the international phonetic alphabet, which is just great. And there’s even a convenient website that translates. For example,
le loup est revenu -> lə lu ε ʀəvny
I stared at Malecki’s mouth while he said the phrase, and I finally understood the difference between the two different “oo” sounds. That evening at home I tried it out on the local expert and he laughed at my attempts but grudgingly admitted I was getting better. On about the 10th try, after watching him say it over and over and staring at his mouth, I was finally able to do it!
I know this is going to sound stupid to all you linguistics experts out there, but I had no idea that you could figure out how to speak better by staring at someone’s mouth.
Whether I’ll put in the proverbial 10,000 hours to really learn to do this right, I don’t know. I doubt I will. But it was fun to find out that with focused effort I could make some progress.