Does your English sound friendly to Americans?

Does your English sound friendly to Americans? 

Does your English sound friendly to Americans?

Does your English sound friendly to Americans?

One big topic that I work on with many of my accent reduction coaching clients is how to sound friendly when you speak.

Many non native speakers are surprised when they realize that their speech sounds stiff and abrupt. However, there are specific techniques you can use to change this.

Blend & reduce the less important words

One technique that you can use to sound more friendly is to  blend ‘n reduce little words.

When native speakers talk, they reduce less important words. They blend these words together using contractions, the American T sounds and the schwa vowel sound.

2 Examples

Listen to these sentences. I’ll say them without blending & reducing. Then I’ll say them with blending & reducing.

1. I have a lot of time this week.

IhaveəllodəTIMEt⤼thisWEEk.⤵

2. That will be all.

ThadəllbeyAll.⤵

Listen here

 

I probably don’t have to tell you which sentences sounded more friendly! I’m sure felt it right away.

This type of speech is completely natural. In most cases, using blending and reductions makes your speech soundsBETTER than saying each word carefully and precisely.

Sound friendly & engaging 

Once my clients learn to use blending & reducing their speech sounds more friendly and engaging.

That’s because reducing & blending words together creates a spoken melody that American listeners like to hear! ♬

Speak clearly, speak professionally

If your goal is to speak American English clearly and professionally, you should consider accent reduction coaching. One on one lessons with a coach (like myself) is absolutely the best way to improve the way you speak.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

 

 

 

How do you pronounce February?

How do you pronounce February? 

How do you pronounce February?

How do you pronounce February?

There’s a little trick that you need to know in order to pronounce the word February correctly.

Actually, there are two little tricks.

1. The first is to drop the /r/ sound.

2. The second is insert two tiny sounds. Add a tiny ʸ sound after the b. Add a tiny ʷsound after the u.

Listen here

 

The end result is this: Fe➝bʸuʷary.

The word Ja➝nuʷary also requires a tiny ʷ after the u.

Use the correct syllable stress

As in every American English word, you must stress the correct syllable when you say the word February. Listen again and you’ll hear that both January and February are stressed on the first syllable.

Use this accent reduction technique to pronounce the words January and February correctly. I teach this to all my accent reduction coaching clients and it works every time!

Speak clearly, speak professionally

If your goal is to speak American English clearly and professionally, you should consider accent reduction coaching. One on one lessons with a coach (like myself) is absolutely the best way to improve the way you speak.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

 

How do you pronounce entrepreneur?

How do you pronounce entrepreneur?

How do you pronounce entrepreneur

How do you pronounce entrepreneur?

The word entrepreneur is used very frequently these days.  I’m always teaching the pronunciation of this word to the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program.

It’s defined as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. The word is originally from the French, entreprendre, meaning to undertake.

The stressed vowel sound

In American English we stress this word on the last syllable.

The stressed vowel sound can be articulated two ways; with  /ɝ/ as in Purple or with /uw/ as in Blue.

  • entrepreneu➝r

Listen here

 

Either pronunciation is acceptable as long as you stress the last syllable.

Improve the way you communicate in American English

I show you how to communicate clearly in my accent reduction coaching program. If clear, professional and engaging communication is your goal, my Skype based coaching program will help you achieve that.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

How do you pronounce petabyte?

How to you pronounce petabyte?

How to you pronounce petabyte?

How do you pronounce petabyte?

In my job as an accent reduction coach, I get to work with people who work in the IT industry. In our coaching sessions my clients practice their American English pronunciation as well as their speaking pace and style.

This week one of my clients asked me how to pronounce petabyte with an American pronunciation.

You can listen here

American pronunciation of petabyte.

Here are the rules:

Since petabyte is a compound noun, the first part of the word is stressed. Compound nouns are almost always stressed on the first syllable.

The T in the first syllable has a tapped T sound. When you listen, you’ll notice that this tapped T sound more like a /d/. The tapped T is a key feature of spoken American English.

I can show you how

If you’re a non native English speaker, an international professional, who’d like to integrate American idioms into your daily conversations, check out my training programs by following the link below.

My programs will teach you how speak American English in a way that your colleagues will respect and understand!

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Will using idioms make me sound more American?

Will using idioms make me sound more American?

Will using idioms make me sound more American?

Will using idioms make me sound more American?

Many of my accent reduction coaching clients ask me to help them incorporate American idioms into their daily conversations.

They know that using idioms will enable them to speak more efficiently.

By using idiomatic phrases, they’ll be able to use fewer words to get their point across.

Saying idioms correctly

But, in my opinion, idioms are only effective if you say them correctly.

That’s because saying idioms incorrectly, by using the wrong word stress or using the wrong prepositions, will make your speech sound even less standard.

Idioms are said with predictable stress patterns

When you choose to  use an idiom, be sure to say it with the exact word stress and preposition that native speakers use.

Idioms and their stories

The podcasts below from the Voice of America (VOA) feature popular American idioms and the stories behind them.

The five minute audio stories describe the use and origin of idioms we use all the time in American English.

American Idiom Podcasts

The narrator speaks very slowly….much slower than typical American speech. You’ll need to say them faster once you learn what they mean.

I can show you how

If you’re a non native English speaker, an international professional, who’d like to integrate American idioms into your daily conversations, check out my training programs by following the link below.

My programs will teach you how speak using the stress patterns of American English!

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Is it Better to Speak with a High Pitch or a Low Pitch?

Is it better to speak with a high pitch or a low pitch?

Is it Better to Speak with a High Pitch or a Low Pitch?

Is it Better to Speak with a High Pitch or a Low Pitch?

My accent reduction coaching clients often ask me if it’s better to speak with a high pitch or a low pitch.

Good question!

My response

In order to be a clear, effective and engaging speaker of American English, you need to vary your pitch.

You can’t speak using the same pitch all the time.

Pitch emphasis

Important words and syllables need to be emphasized when you speak. You should use vowel length and a slightly higher pitch to do this.

Less important words and syllables need to be reduced when you speak. You should say these with a lower pitch. Maybe you’ve read about reduced speech?

Stress & reduce

Using a combination of stressed + unstressed sounds, stressed words + unstressed words, is a critical component of spoken American English.

It’s a formula for sounding clear and engaging when you speak.

An example

One of my Chinese speaking clients used to say every syllable and every word with the same slightly high pitch. She didn’t emphasize important words.

She didn’t reduce the sounds of less important words.

~~~This made her speech sound monotonous.~~~

Because she spoke with a consistent pitch, her listeners (myself included) got tired of listening to her. They started to tune her out.

Which was unfortunate because she had great ideas to share!

Lively & engaging

Once she began to vary her pitch, stressing some words and reducing others, her spoken English sounded much more lively.

Listening to her was much more fun and engaging!

I can show you how

If you’re a non native English speaker, an international professional, who’s ready to take your communication skills to the next level, check out my training programs by following the link below.

My programs will teach you how speak using the pitch patterns and melodies of American English!

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Do you pronounce realize correctly?

Do you pronounce realize correctly?realize

Most of the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program pronounce the word realize incorrectly.

Here’s the error pattern

When my clients say this word, they tend to stress the last syllable.  They say it like this realIZE.

Americans don’t say it like that. Americans say it like this REAlize.

Listen here

 

Here’s the correct stress pattern

When a word ends with the suffix ize, you should place your stress two syllables before ize.

Don’t stress ize. That will sound unusual to American listeners.

They might think that you’re saying real eyes or real lies….just as you see in the image above.

Learn more rules for speaking clear American English

I teach you the rules and patterns for speaking clear American English in my accent reduction coaching program.

If you read and write English really well, but have never learned to speak the American way, the techniques that you’ll learn my coaching program will surprise and amaze you.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

How do you pronounce percent?

How do you pronounce percent?

How do you pronounce percent?

How do you pronounce percent?

Many of the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program mispronounce the work percent. This leads to confusion!

And there’s a simple reason why this happens.

Percent

The word percent is stressed on the second syllable. This is because the word came to English via French.

  • perce➝nt

Person 

In contrast, the word person is stressed on the first syllable.

This is a very common pattern. In fact, most two syllable nouns are stressed on the first syllable.

  • per➝son

Compare

  • per➝son
  • perce➝nt

If you stress these words on the wrong syllable, it will lead to confusion in the ears of the American listener.

Variations of percent

These variations of percent are stressed the same way.

  • perce➝nt        
  • perce➝ntage
  • perce➝ntages

Listen to the pronunciation

 

Americans listen for stress

Remember that Americans listen for stress. If you stress the wrong syllable in a word, there’s a very good chance that they won’t understand you.

Be aware of and practice American syllable stress patterns. This will make a huge difference in your comprehensibility.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Did you say live or leave?

Did you say live or leave?

live or leave, ship or sheep

live or leave, ship or sheep

Do people get mixed up when you say the words live & leave?

This happens to non native speakers of American English all the time.

Here’s why that happens

Two American English vowel sounds that non-native speakers frequently mispronounce are:

  • /iy/ as in Green
  • /I/ as in Silver

Many of the international professionals who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program over pronounce the /I/ as in Silver.

They use too many facial muscles to make this sound.

When they do that, the /I/ as in Silver sounds like /iy/ as in Green.

A true story

Here’s a funny (true) story that illustrates what I mean:

I was working with a multinational manager in Turkey. We were talking about commodities and I asked him how he got his raw materials.

He told me, “the raw materials come by sheep“.

And I thought, what? By sheep?!

But of course I figured out that what he meant was ship.

We laughed and got to work on that sound

When I told him what I heard, he and I both laughed. Then I told him that he needed to relax his facial muscles in order to say the word ship with the correct vowel sound.

Other words with /I/ as in Silver that my clients usually over pronounce using /iy/ as in Green include:

  • video
  • limited
  • live
  • system
  • Virginia

There are many more!

Learn the American vowel sounds

For an introduction to all the American English vowel sounds check out my iPad book, Fundamentals of the American Accent.

This iBook is available in 50 countries in Europe & the Americas on the iBookstore. If you are an iPad user who working to improve your American accent, take a look at this multi-touch book.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.