As a way to improve your non-native skills in English, it may seem a little funny for me to be promoting a Moroccan-French standup comedian and his show on Netflix, but voila!
The one-hour comedy special (all in English), “My American Dream,” features the fun, funny, well-loved actor-comedian, Gad Elmaleh, who is rock-star famous in France but still gaining an audience in the English-speaking world. One big challenge for the comedian, who moved to New York in 2016, was to master English well enough so his new audience could understand his jokes without being distracted by his accent.
In a 2016 radio interview, Gad explained that he wasn’t setting out to sound American, “but if you’re going to be doing comedy and jokes, you don’t want anyone to miss one of your jokes because your accent is not good.”
So, the comedian hired an American English teacher for grammar and a speech coach to help with the pronunciation and intonation of his words. (“It’s vaKAYshun, not VAYkayshun.”)
Cut to his show and see (or hear!) the excellent results: Does he still have an accent? Of course! But it is barely noticeable. To learn from Gad and his show, try this:
- Watch Gad’s mouth — how he opens it wide.
- Read out loud along with the subtitles and try to synch your voice with his.
- Notice the words he uses — Gad speaks with short, everyday words and sentences.
To continue your training with the “My American Dream” …
• Pick out a short line, like, “There you go,” and press pause. Repeat the line.
- Find other short lines you think you could use in your daily life. Repeat those too.
- Find time to practice this show — or any show — on a regular basis.
- Yes, regular! even if for only 10 minutes a day. Repetition is key. Repetition is key!
In his show, Gad has performed two feats, the first being mastering English for American audiences. The second is that Gad is not embarrassed to speak like a wide-open-mouthed American — he even pokes fun at Americans with his on-target facial expressions and body language — while still holding onto his Moroccan-French identity. Touché!
So, if you are serious about improving your English, try embracing the challenge — like Gad.