How Important Is Feedback for Accent Reduction?

How Important Is Feedback for Accent Reduction?

How important is feedback for accent reduction?

How important is feedback for accent reduction?

About once a month someone contacts me and says

Susan, I’ve been studying the American accent on my own for some time now. But it’s hard for me to tell if I’m improving. I think I need some coaching and personal feedback.

It’s all about effective communication

If you’ve been studying the American accent on your own, I’m proud of you. That’s because if you live in North America, or work with North Americans, understanding how the American accent works will definitely help you in your career.

Understanding the communication preferences of the people you do business with is important, right?

Of course, good communication skills will always help you connect with others and get things done!

Can you improve your American accent without feedback?

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of coaching hundreds of international professionals on how to communicate with an American accent.

They needed someone to listen to them and give them productive critical feedback so that they could really apply what they’d learned.

And as I said, many of these career minded people studied on their own before contacting me for help. So how much did they improve?

Understanding vs. application

The majority of these people did learn many important features of the American accent on their own.

  • Most of them understood the key concept of syllable stress and schwa.
  • Most of them understood the importance of intonation.
  • Most of them understood which vowel & consonant sounds were challenging for them.

But, since they’d never received detailed personal feedback on their speech, they hadn’t made the noticeable changes that they were after.

Research on the Need for Feedback

Studies have found that feedback is essential as we train our brains to hear new sounds.

When we get guidance on what to listen for and direct feedback on our speech, we can begin to produce new sounds and patterns more accurately.

This article from Scientific American, titled Teach Old Ears New Tricks explains some fascinating research on language learning and the need for immediate feedback. Follow the link below to read it.

Teach Old Ears New Tricks 

Get personal feedback on your American accent

And if you’re ready to get detailed critical feedback on what you can do to communicate more effectively with North Americans, follow this link to see how I’ve helped people like you achieve communication success.

Choose Reviews.

Bill Gates Feedback

3 Websites for Learning the Schwa Vowel Sound

The most common sound in English

Schwa is the name for the most common sound in English. The sound is used in both American & British English. The symbol we use to represent this sound is an upside down /ə/.

The Schwa Vowel Sound

The Schwa Vowel Sound

What does schwa sound like?

Schwa is a weak, unstressed sound. It sounds like a weak “uh’.  

This unstressed sound occurs in many (almost every) words including:

  • techNOLəgy
  • phəTOgrəphy
  • dəVELəp
  • WAtər

Schwa is often the vowel sound you hear in articles, conjunctions and prepositions. 

  • thə    (the)
  • ənd  (and)
  • ən     (an)

How come I’ve never heard of the schwa sound?

If you’ve never heard of the schwa sound before, you’re not alone. Native English speakers use schwa all the time…but they’re not aware of the term.

But remember….in American English we don’t say every vowel sound clearly. Saying every vowel sound with a loud, clear pronunciation will make your spoken English sound choppy and staccato.

Accurate spoken English

Since schwa is the most common sound in spoken English, leaning to use it is critical for making your pronunciation more accurate and natural.

Here are 3 websites you can use to learn more about and practice this sound.

Websites for learning the schwa vowel sound

1. BBC Schwa (be sure to view the funny video at the bottom of the page)

2. Rachel’s English

3. English Club

If you’re serious about improving your American English pronunciation, follow the link to learn more about schwa here on my ConfidentVoice blog. You won’t sound American if you don’t use this sound!

How do you pronounce necessary?

I didn't know that!

I didn’t know that!

How do you pronounce necessary?

Every week in my accent reduction coaching program someone asks me how to pronounce these related words

  1. necessary
  2. necessity
  3. necessarily

The reason that these words are difficult to pronounce correctly is because the syllable stress is different in each word.

Learn the patterns!

One way you can really improve the way you speak American English is to learn to use the correct syllable stress patterns.

In the word necessary, you need to stress the first syllable.

  • ne➝cessary

In the word necessity, you need to stress the second syllable.

  • nece➝ssity

In the word necessarily, you need to stress the second syllable.

  • necessar➝ily

Listen here


Have you studied American English syllable stress patterns?

Probably not.

Most non native English speakers never learned to use syllable stress patterns in their home country.  That’s unfortunate because these are critical for making your words sound clear and comprehensible to the American listener.

I teach you the rules!

I teach you all the rules for syllable stress in my accent reduction coaching program.

Why? Because knowing how to use syllable stress correctly is essential for anyone who is serious about speaking American English with clarity.



Good Communication Skills Boost Your Value

Good Communication Skills Boost Your Value

Good Communication Skills Boost Your Value

Good Communication Skills Boost Your Value

I recently read an article in Forbes that discusses the immense $ value $ of having good communication skills.

In the article, communication specialist Carmine Gallo describes an incident in which Warren Buffet offered a group of business students a substantial investment based on their ability to communicate clearly and master the art of public speaking.

Technical Knowledge is Not Enough

You can have all the technical knowledge in the world, but if you can’t communicate with clarity and confidence, your chances of rising up in your career are limited.

Companies like Berkshire-Hathaway and  Cisco expect their executives to speak and present at a high level.

Do You Need to Eliminate Your Accent To Succeed?

In order to succeed in America, you don’t need to eliminate your foreign accent. However, you do need to speak in a manner that other people understand.

You need to:

  • Say words clearly
  • Speak with the right pace
  • Speak in a manner that’s since and engaging

Read the Article on Forbes

You can read Carmine Gallo’s article at the link below~

✪ Good Communication Boosts Your Value

He writes weekly on effective communication in business. He’s someone to follow.

Take the First Step Towards Clear Communication

Are you working to communicate more clearly in American English? If you are check out my iPad book for the American accent.

You can download the first chapter for free in the iBookstore at the link below.

American Accent Fundamentals - Susan M. Ryan


Don’t make this pronunciation mistake!

Don’t make this pronunciation mistake!Letter D

Everyone who I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs has excellent reading and writing skills.

However many of my Chinese and Spanish speaking clients make the following GRAMMAR related mistake…..

They fail to articulate the word final ed sounds.

The importance of word final ed sounds

Articulating word final ed sounds is very important. That’s because if you don’t say these sounds clearly, your grammar will sound incorrect.

Americans notice when you fail to articulate word final ed. They make judgements regarding your knowledge of grammar and your mastery of American English.

Common words

Below are 5 commonly used words that in which Chinese & Spanish speakers usually fail to articulate the word final ed sound.

  • called
  • loved
  • decided
  • returned
  • trusted

Think about it!

Do you say the ed sounds at the end of these words?  Are you speaking in a manner that sounds clear and grammatically correct?

My accent reduction coaching clients don’t usually realize that they’re not pronouncing these ed sounds clearly. And they feel embarrassed to realize what they’ve been doing.

Don’t drop this sound!

Failing to pronounce the ed will definitely contribute to your accent. And, it will make your grammar sound incorrect.

If you’re working in a professional position, I know that you DON’T want this to happen!

When I work with my accent reduction clients, I teach them the rules for the past tense ed (there are 3 slightly different sounds that we use).

MORE IMPORTANTLY, I help my clients practice these sounds in real life phrases, sentences and conversations to make them automatic.

Get expert feedback on your American English

Contact me at if you’re a professional who’d like expert feedback on your spoken English.  Find out what you’ve been doing wrong and learn exactly what you need to do to change this.

How should I pronounce American names?

Building Connections in the Workplace

How should I pronounce American names?

How should I pronounce American names?

The people I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs often ask me,

Susan, how should I pronounce American names?

And I’m very pleased that they ask me this question, because….

if you want to build connections and build strong relationships with others in your organization, it’s really important to say peoples’ name correctly.

Two Rules for Pronouncing American Names

Here are two rules that’ll help you say American names correctly.

#1 Two syllable names are usually stressed on the first syllable

  • Susan
  • Thomas
  • David
  • Laura

In the names above,  say the first syllable with a long clear vowel sound. Reduce the sound of the vowel in the second syllable (reduced schwa vowel sound) as shown below.

  • Su→sǝn
  • Tho→mǝs
  • Da→vǝd
  • Laur→ǝ

#2 Last names should be stressed more than first names

When saying someone’s first and last name, give extra emphasis to the last name.

  • Thomas Daly
  • Laura Jackson
  • David Greenberg
  • Susan Ryan

This is what American English speakers do.

Dale Carnegie on Pronouncing Names Correctly

Don’t discount the importance of saying names correctly. As the famous American communicator Dale Carnegie said:

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ❤

You can connect with your colleagues and clients by saying their names correctly.

Improve the Way You Speak & Build Connections

In my accent reduction personal training programs, I teach you to:

  • pronounce American names correctly
  • make small talk
  • speak in a style that sounds friendly to Americans

If your goal is to speak clearly and really connect with the people in your workplace or community, my personal accent coaching programs are are the place to learn these skills.

Contact me at and I’ll send you a PDF that describes my coaching programs.


Is Bill Gates a Great Speaker?

Is Bill Gates a Great Speaker?

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Carmine Gallo, communication writer at Forbes, wrote earlier this month about how Bill Gates has radically transformed his communication skills since stepping down as CEO.

A Transformation

Gallo has followed Gates very closely as he’s transformed himself into a persuasive communicator who can explain complex subjects in a clear and simple way.

One communication strategy that Gates now uses very effectively is called The Rule of 3.

What is The Rule of 3?

Good communicators think about their listeners. If your listener can’t get remember you’re saying, communication isn’t actually happening. Right?

You don’t want to overload your listeners with too much information!

Too Much Information 

Most people can remember ideas best when they’re presented in short concise groups of 3.

~ 3 ideas are enough to support an argument

~ 3 ideas are just enough for someone to remember

~ 3 ideas keep people from getting overwhelmed with too much information (TMI*)

Gates Keeps it Simple*

Great communicators understand that complex ideas must be explained simply and succinctly. Using The Rule of 3 can help you do that.

Stating things simply and clearly is fundamental rule of persuasive speaking. But it’s not easy to do well with out training and practice.

Video Case Studies of Great Speakers

In my accent reduction coaching program for STEM professionals I teach you to speak in a manner that’s clear and persuasive using video case studies of great speakers.

Great speakers like Bill & Melinda Gates who understand and model The Rule of 3.

Relevant Lessons for Accent Reduction Training

In my programs, you study the styles of great speakers as you learn to reduce your accent and express your ideas clearly. This is a powerful and relevant way to make positive changes to the way you speak American English.

If excellent American English communication is a skill that you need to master for greater success in your career, follow this link to learn more about how I do this.

Susan’s Accent Reduction Training Program for STEM Professionals

Follow this link to read the article on Forbes.

* You’re probably familiar with these acronyms, but just in case you aren’t, here’s the explanation.

TMI=too much information

KISS=keep it simple stupid

American Accent Course Now on Sale!

Back to School Sale on my Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course

Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course

Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course


Many of you know that I work one-on-one with professionals who’ve decided to bring their communication skills to the next level.

However, a few months ago I held an online accent reduction class. That’s because so many of you who read my blog emailed to ask for this.

This week, September 2-5, 2014 I’m having a SALE on the Home Study Version of this class.

✰ The 5 Secret Keys to Communication Success ✰

In my Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course I  teach you five “secrets” for speaking clear American English that no one has never told you about.

I’m not using the word “secrets” to be mysterious. I call these techniques “secrets” because whenever I teach these rules for American style communication to my private clients, they always say

“Susan, these techniques are really important. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about these before?”

I tell them that the secrets for clear speaking are rarely taught in regular English classes. To learn speaking skills you need to work with an accent specialist.

I’m very happy and excited that THIS WEEK, I can offer you my Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course at a HUGE SAVINGS.

Follow the link below to get 50% off the advertised price of this course.

Unlock Your American Accent Home Study Course Sale

This Back to School offer is good through September 5, 2014 at midnight. Do take advantage of this opportunity to SAVE as you invest in your American English communication skills.

If you speak American English in your professional life, at your child’s school, and in the wider community, the five “secrets” that I teach you in this class will be very valuable!

If you’ve been thinking about accent reduction coaching….and haven’t been able to make that commitment, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn the KEYS to smooth and clear American style speech at a HUGE SAVINGS!

Accent Reduction Training with a Coach

Accent Reduction Training with a Coach 

Why don't people understand me?

Why don’t people understand me?

Do you wonder why your American colleagues and friends don’t always understand you when you speak English?

Do you find that people continually ask you to repeat what you said?

Do people seem to “give up” on talking to you after a few minutes?

Time to stop struggling on your own!

It’s time to stop struggling on your own! Find out why your foreign accent is creating problems for you by contacting an accent reduction coach.

How working with an accent reduction coach will help you

Here are 4 reasons why working with an accent reduction coach is the most effective way to reduce your foreign accent:

  1. When you work with a coach, you’ll understand exactly why Americans don’t  always understand you.
  2. When you work with a coach, you’ll learn specific techniques you can use to make noticeable changes.
  3. When you work with a coach, you’ll get the personal feedback you need in order to speak with clarity.
  4. When you work with a coach, you’ll receive customized lessons* focusing on the way you communicate.

Research says that communication skills are more important

According to research conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 93 percent of business and nonprofit leaders surveyed consider critical thinking and communication skills to be more important than a person’s undergraduate major when it comes to hiring.

Obviously, clear communication is a skill you need to have.

Career success 

Motivated professionals frequently choose to work with an accent reduction coach because they understand that clear and engaging communication will allow them to

  • be more employable
  • articulate their ideas
  • connect with others
  • make a difference in the workplace

They understand that clear American English is critical if they want to experience unlimited success in their careers.

Fast, cheap & easy

Kicking your American English communication skills up to the next level, (or up a few levels as many of my clients do), is not fast, cheap or easy.

As my business mentor, Seth Godin says~

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Fast, easy, guaranteed**

…pick none.

That’s the work that’s worth doing.

Improving the way you communicate takes time. It’s an investment in your future success. It’s absolutely the work worth doing.

Invest in yourself

I won’t tell you that my programs are fast, cheap and easy. I won’t tell you that “your accent will go away”. I trust that you know better than to believe that.

But I do guarantee ** that my customized coaching program will enable you to speak American English in a way that Americans will understand.

I will work with you until you get it. I’m fully invested in your communication success. If you are.

Susan Ryan~Accent reduction coach

If you’re an international professional who’s committed to improving your personal communication skills, working with an accent reduction coach is the most effective strategy to get where you want to be.

I specialize in helping people working in technology, research, teaching and finance communicate in a way that Americans find clear, professional and engaging.

To learn more about me and my accent reduction coaching programs, click About at the top of this page.

* Not all accent coaches provide customized lessons and master lists. Be sure to ask about this when choosing a coach.

** Read the fine print on guarantees whenever you chose a program