2 Reasons Why Americans Don’t Understand You
This week one of my accent reduction clients said.
“Susan, I just listened to the recording of our coaching session. How come my speech sounds so mumbly and your speech sounds so clear?”
“Ahhh…”, I told him, “You’re beginning to recognize the importance of articulating long clear vowel sounds in key words.”
Stressing syllables makes your words sound clear
It works like this.
American English speakers lengthen → the vowels in stressed syllables. We say these vowels with a slightly higher pitch. ☝
Americans listen for syllable stress. If you don’t use this correctly, you’re at a big disadvantage. Your communication will be compromised.
Emphasize the words that are important to your message
When a word is particularly important, you need to emphasize it using vowel length and clarity. When you do that, you let your listen hear what’s important.
Don’t stress all words and syllables equally!
When you mumble through your words, without stressing syllable and important words, your speech will sound mumbly and monotonous.
Americans will find it difficult to understand you.
American English is a stressed timed language
Spoken American English is based on stress. This includes:
If you stress every syllable and word with equal stress, Americans will struggle to understand you. If you stress the correct syllables and words Americans will almost always understand you.
No magic bullet
There’s no magic bullet to improving the way you speak American English.
However, learning to speak with American stress patterns will make a noticeable difference in the way you speak.
About the author
Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an accent reduction coach on Skype.
See her American accent training programs for professionals to take a free lesson on the stress patterns of spoken English.