3 Great Websites for Pronunciation Practice

3 Great Websites for Pronunciation Practice

Websites for Pronunciation Practice

Websites for Pronunciation Practice

Are you looking for websites you can use to practice your American English pronunciation?

Here are 3 excellent online resources that I recommend to my accent reduction coaching clients.

These websites are a good way to review and practice the sounds of American English that are challenging for you.

1. Okanagan College

Excellent practice activities for many American English sounds including R & L,

2. Language Guide

The voices used in this site are very nice & clear. There is a lot of vocabulary you can use to listen & repeat.

3. Center for Language Education, HKUST

This site is for Cantonese Speakers but speakers of other languages, especially those of you from Singapore, China & Japan will  find it very useful.

Check out these 3 free online resources and add them to your bookmarks.

Beyond Pronunciation is Real Communication

Of course, you won’t make significant progress improving American English communication style unless you experience live instruction with personal feedback.

That’s because real communication involves much more than the articulation of sounds.

Effective Communication Includes

Effective communication in any language, including American English includes:

  • The correct articulation of vowel & consonant sounds
  • Speaking with the right pace
  • Using the correct intonation
  • Learning to listen to others

Real Communication Skills

I teach you critical skills for clear and engaging American English communication in my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar Classes .

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

Or, choose one of the links below to learn more tips for speaking clear American English. Thanks for visiting!

 

How to Pronounce US Place Names

Pronouncing US Place Names

How to pronounce US place names

How to pronounce US place names.

This is my follow up post on how to pronounce US place names. If you missed yesterday’s post, how to pronounce American place names, you may want to start there.

Two Errors

Yesterday I told you that the BBC Guide, How to Pronounce US Place Names contained 2 errors.

Did you figure out what they were?

The Answers

Here are the answers:

Arkansas should be stressed on the first syllable. That’s the way most Americans say it.

  • Ar➝kansas

Albuquerque should also be stressed on the first syllable. That’s the way most Americans say it.

  • A➝lbuquerque

There will always be exceptions (this is a big country) but most people will say both of these place names with stress on the first syllable.

Listen to My Pronunciation of  Arkansas & Albuquerque

 

Learn to Pronounce US Place Names in my Webinar Classes

I teach you rules for pronouncing American place names, American names (people) and other critical communication skills in my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar Classes .

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

Or, choose one of the links below to learn more tips for speaking clear American English. Thanks for visiting!

 

How to Pronounce American Place Names

How to pronounce American place names.

How to pronounce American place names.

Pronouncing American Place Names

A frequent question that I receive from my accent reduction coaching clients is,

Susan, can you teach me how to say American place names correctly?

And I always tell them, “of course, I can do that!”

How to Pronounce American Place Names

Pronouncing cities, states and other locations correctly is actually quite tricky. That’s because American place names have many origins.

Many of our place names come from French including:

  • Louisville
  • Des Moines
  • Boise
  • Baton Rouge

Others come from native American languages including:

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Mississippi
  • Massachusetts

And then of course there’s all of our Spanish derived place names including:

  • San Francisco
  • California
  • Colorado
  • San Jose

Of course we’ve “Americanized” the pronunciations of all the place names listed above. So they don’t sound like they would in their language of origin.

One Clear Rule for Pronouncing American Place Names Correctly

Amid all the various names, here’s one rule that will stand true 99% of the time.

Stress two word place names on the second word. For example:

  • Miami BEACH              put the emphasis on BEACH
  • San JOSE                       put the emphasis on JOSE
  • Niagara FALLS            put the emphasis on FALLS
  • North CAROLINA       put the emphasis on CAROLINA

Learn to Pronounce American Place Names in my Webinar Classes

I teach you rules that will help you pronounce American place names, American names (of people) and other critical communication skills in my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar Classes .

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

Some Errors in this Guide from BBC America

And one more thing….this Guide to Pronouncing American Place Names from the BBC contains at least 2 errors. Do you know what they are?

If not,… come back tomorrow when I’ll post the answers.

Guide to Pronouncing American Place Names 

 

 

Why Do I Have an Accent When I Speak American English?

This is my fourth & final post in my series titled

Sound substitution creates an accent.

Sound substitution creates an accent.

Why do I have an accent when I speak American English?

Today I’m going to talk about how sound substitution contributes to your accent.

Sound substitution 

When  speaking English, non native speakers often substitute a sound they are familiar with from their own language for an English sound.

Example #1

For example, Indian, Turkish, Russian & German speakers often substitute a sound like /v/ for the American /w/ sound.

  • This makes the word wine sound like vine.
  • This makes the word west sound like vest.

Example #2

Speakers of many languages including Spanish, Mandarin & Russian use an /iy/ sound for the /I/ American sound.

  • This makes the word chip sounds like cheap.
  • This makes the word list sounds like least.

Using a sound from your native language instead of an American English sound will contribute to your accent.

Sound substitution, question intonation patterns, syllable stress & vowel length

All of the above are components of someone’s accent. If you don’t say sounds, lengthen vowels or use stress and intonation the same way that Americans do, you’ll speak American English with an accent.

And there’s nothing wrong with speaking with an accent!

Accents are only a problem when they create breakdowns in communication. When that happens, you may want to get some training.

Come to My Unlock Your American Accent Webinar

If you’re serious about improving the way you speak American English, I invite you to attend my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar.

In this webinar, I’ll explain more about WHY you speak with an accent and what you can to do change this.

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

If you’d like to see my video tutorials on these (and other American English vowel & consonant sounds) follow the link below.

American Accent Vowel Sound Tutorials

And thanks for visiting my BLOG this week!

Why Do I Have an Accent When I Speak English?

This is Part 3 of my series that answers the question

Why do I speak English with an accent?

 Why do I have an accent when I speak English?

In the past two posts I wrote about the importance of

  • using the correct syllable stress
  • lengthening your vowel sounds

You may want to go back and read those posts if you haven’t done that already.

You may not be using the correct intonation when you speak

Today I’ll talk about the importance of using the correct sentence intonation when asking questions.

Many non native speakers don’t use American style intonation when they speak English. Using the wrong type of intonation will definitely contribute to your accent.

Two rules about intonation

Here are 2 rules about intonation that you need to know

1. Information questions that begin with“wh” words should have rising falling intonation. Your pitch should rise UP and fall DOWN on the focus word (usually the last word in a sentence).

Where are you GOing? ⤵

2. Questions that can be answered with Yes or No usually have rising intonation. Your pitch should rise up and stay high on the focus word.

Are you REAdy? ⤴

Most people never learned to speak using these 2 patterns

Most of the people I’ve worked with in my accent reduction coaching program never learned about these 2 types of question intonation.

They had no idea that their native intonation style was contributing to their accent!

Once they learned this pattern and started to use it, they had fewer breakdowns in communication.☝

Come to My Unlock Your American Accent Webinar

If you’re serious about improving the way you speak American English, I invite you to attend my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar.

In this webinar, I’ll explain more about WHY you speak with an accent and what you can to do change this.

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

And be sure to stop back tomorrow to read PART 4 of this series on Why Do I Have an Accent When I Speak American English?

 

Why Do I Have an Accent When I Speak English?

This is #2 of four posts I’m writing this week that explain WHY you have an accent

Why do I speak with an accent?

Why do I speak with an accent?

when you speak English.

Yesterday I wrote about syllable stress. You should read that post now if you missed it yesterday. Using the correct syllable stress when you speak English is really important if you want Americans to understand you.

Lengthening your vowel sounds

Today I’ll talk about the importance of lengthening ⇒  certain vowel sounds.

There are 2 rules for lengthening vowels that you need to know.

1. Lengthen the vowel sounds in stressed syllables

When you are speaking American English you must lengthen the vowel sounds that occur in stressed syllables. These vowel sounds are also said with a slightly higher pitch.☝

This will make your words sound clear and comprehensible to the American listener.

2. Lengthen the sounds of vowels that occur before voiced consonants

You must also lengthen vowels ➙ that occur before voiced consonants. When a vowel occurs before as sound such as /z/,/n/,/v/ & /d/ you must lengthen it.

Doing this will make words such as bat & bad, safe & save sound more distinct.

Short vowel sounds will contribute to your accent 

Many non native speakers say all of their vowel sounds in a short concise way. Saying your vowels like this may feel good to YOU…but speaking with vowel sounds that are too short makes  your speech sound choppy and accented to American listeners.

Speaking with longer vowel sounds will make your words more clear. Speaking with longer vowel sounds will allow you to speak with a better pace.

Come to My Unlock Your American Accent Webinar

If you’re serious about improving the way you speak American English, I invite you to attend my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar.

In this webinar, I’ll explain more about WHY you speak with an accent and what you can to do change this.

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

And be sure to stop back tomorrow to read PART 3 of this series on Why Do I Have an Accent When I Speak American English?

Why Do I Have an Accent?

You may be wondering…..

Why do I have an accent?

Why do I have an accent?

Why do I have an accent when I speak American English?

Let’s talk about that!

There are a number of factors that contribute to accented speech. Over the next few days I’ll describe 5 factors that may be causing YOU to have an accent when you speak American English.

Factor #1 Syllable Stress

Factor #1 is syllable stress. This one is really important. That’s why it’s first on my list.

American English has rules that determine which syllable is stressed in a word.

The vowel in the stressed syllable gets extra attention. That vowel is lengthened ➜ and emphasized using a slightly higher pitch.☝

Two Basic Rules for Syllable Stress

Here are 2 basic rules for American English syllable stress:

1. Two syllable verbs are usually stressed on the second syllable.

Produ➝ce, reply➝, delay➝, adju➝st

2. Phrasal verbs are always stressed on the second syllable.

Work ou➝t, hand i➝n, go over, print ou➝t

You MUST Follow These Rules

If you  want to speak with less of an accent, you simply must apply these syllable stress rules.

That’s because if you don’t stress syllables the way native speakers stress them, it contributes significantly to your accent!

Americans Listen for Stressed Syllables

Americans listen for stressed syllables in order to identify words. If you stress the wrong syllable there’s a very good chance that we won’t understand you.

Who Needs to Learn to Use Syllable Stress?

Indian English speakers, Japanese speakers, Chinese speakers, Turkish speakers, French speakers & Spanish speakers all need to learn the rules for American English syllable stress in order to improve their American accents.

It’s One of the Best Ways to Make Noticeable Changes

Learning to use the correct syllable stress patterns is absolutely one of the BEST ways to speak American English more clearly!!

Watch one of my Syllable Stress Video Lessons

Here’s one of my syllable stress video lessons. Take a look and you’ll start to understand what I mean by syllable stress.

Come to My Unlock Your American Accent Webinar

If you seriously want to learn more about WHY you speak with an accent and what you can to do change this, I invite you to sign up for my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar.

In the webinar I’ll teach you TEN RULES for using American style syllable stress correctly. That’s TEN RULES that you can learn and use right away. See the details on the big blue banner up there on your right. ↗

 

Reduced Speech in American English

Reduced Speech

reduced speech

Godda go!

In order to speak American English in a way that sounds natural to the native listener, you need to use reduced speech.

If you’re not familiar with the term reduced speech, think of it as groups of common words that include silent T sounds, tapped T sounds and schwa sounds.

Here are some examples of reduced speech

  • woulda
  • shoulda
  • godda
  • gonna
  • hafta
  • wanna

Some people resist

Sometimes the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs resist using reduced speech forms.

They often tell me~

Susan, in my country the English teachers told us not to speak that way. They told us it sounds sloppy and uneducated.

Okay, I get that. However…..

Research on reduced speech

Americans use reduced speech forms all the time. In fact, research by Nina Weinstein, author of Whaddaya Say?, found that American speakers use reduced forms once every two minutes.

I think it’s probably even more!

Speak with a melody that’s familiar to the American listener

If you use reduced forms you’ll speak American English with a smoother, more familiar melody; a melody that Americans enjoy listening to.

People will understand you as long as you emphasize your focus words.

To learn related tips for speaking clear and fluent American English click on one of the posts below.

Thanks for visiting my ConfidentVoice blog!

 

How do you pronounce figure?

How do you pronounce figure?

How do you pronounce figure?

How do you pronounce figure?

During several of my accent reduction coaching sessions last week, I noticed that three of my clients were pronouncing the word FIGURE incorrectly.

This may also be happening to you!

How to pronounce figure correctly

In spoken American English, the word FIGURE has an extra ʸ sound that you can’t see in the spelling.

When you add the ʸ sound, the word becomes fi➝gʸer, not figger!

Figure, configure, configuration 

The same thing happens in the words configure and configuration.

We pronounce these words with an extra ʸ sound too….so the correct pronunciations are:

  • fi➝gʸer
  • confi➝gʸure
  • configʸura➝tion

Vowels that occur before an ➝ are stressed.

Listen to the correct pronunciation of figure

 

This is a very noticeable speaking error!

American listeners immediately notice this speaking error…so be aware of these words.

There are lots of other words that have extra ʸ sounds. Sounds that you can’t see…but sounds Americans say when they speak.

American Accent training for STEM professionals

I teach you to pronounce figure, configure and hundreds of other science and technology related words in my American Accent coaching for STEM professionals program.

If you’re a STEM professional who thinks that your communication is holding you back, see how other people like you have achieved their communication goals in my program.