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

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

There’s nothing wrong with you if you speak American English with an accent.

If I went to your country of origin, and tried to speak your language, I’d speak with an accent too!

I’d bring all my American speech habits and sounds to your language. And it would sound foreign to you.

Modifying your accent

Many people who move to the US or Canada to pursue their careers choose to modify their foreign accent.

They want to communicate in a manner thats clear and confident.

Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with hundreds of people who wanted to modify their accent and speak American English with clarity.

During this time, I’ve realized that there are common reasons why people born outside North America speak American English with an accent.

Below are five of the most common reasons.

5 common reasons why you speak American English with an accent

1. You’re not using the schwa vowel sound

2. You’re not using syllable stress correctly

4. You’re not pronouncing your word final sounds clearly

5. You’re not using the American T sounds

Other reasons

Of course there are other reasons as well.

These include lack of sharp articulation of the Th sounds, the /w/ sound & the /ʤ/ sound.

Or clear differentiation between the various sounds of the letters O & A.

But almost every person who I’ve worked with in my accent reduction coaching program needed to work on the 5 features above.

Noticeable improvements

Once my clients learned how to use the schwa vowel sound, use the correct syllable stress, pronounce word final sounds clearly and use the American T sounds, their speech sounded more clear, professional and easy to understand.

They made noticeable improvements to the way they spoke.

  • People didn’t ask them to repeat what they said.
  • They made better connections with others.
  • They felt more confident expressing their ideas.
  • They were able to move forward in their careers.

How can you learn these features of American English?

What can you do if you want to change the way you speak?

How can you learn to use the features of spoken English that I listed above?

The best way to learn

You can begin learning using a book or an audio course.

If you’re a self starter, you can use books or audio courses to understand the rules of spoken American English.

However, most people find it challenging to apply the rules without some feedback.

Work with a coach

By far,  the most effective and fastest way to make changes to the way you speak is to work with a coach.

An accent reduction coach, like me, can provide you with focused feedback.

An accent reduction coach can show you how to apply the rules to the words & phrases you use everyday.

An accent reduction coach will encourage you and keep you accountable.

Quarter 2 starts today

If you start working on your communication skills this month, you’ll have made noticeable changes by the end of June.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Contact me at susan@confidentvoice.com if you’d like me to send you a PDF with details and prices.

I’d be very pleased to show you how to improve the way you speak American English.

 

 

What’s the most common word in English?

What’s the most common word in English?

What's the most common word in English?

What’s the most common word in English?

The most common word in English is the.

How to pronounce the

There are two ways to pronounce the word the.

Both versions start with a voiced Th sound. That sound is a little bit tricky.

You can see my video tutorial for the Th sounds here.

Two ways to say the vowel sound

There are two ways to say the vowel in the word the.

  1. You can say the vowel with a /ə/ schwa vowel sound.
  2. You can say the vowel with an /iy/ as in Green vowel sound.

Here are the rules

When the word following the starts with a consonant, we use a schwa vowel sound.

The vowel sound in the is a schwa /ǝ/ in these phrases:

  • thǝ book
  • thǝ car
  • thǝ course

Listen here

When the word following the starts with a vowel, we use an /iy/ as in Green vowel sound.

The vowel sound in the is /iy/ as in Green in these phrases:

  • the other day
  • the answer
  • the Americans

Listen here

 

Not a huge problem

Now, saying the word the with the wrong vowel sound is not a huge issue. It’s not going to create breakdowns in communication.

However, learning to use the schwa sound is one of the most effective things you can do, if you want to speak clearly in American English.

The most common sound

Schwa is the most common sound in spoken English. You’ve goddə use it if you want your American English to sound clear and natural.

I show you how

In my accent reduction coaching program, I show you how to speak American English in a style that’s clear, natural and professional.

You’ll learn to use schwa, the Th sounds, syllable stress and other proven accent reduction techniques.

Contact me at susan@confidentvoice.com. I’ll send you more information.

How to pronounce patent

Do you know how to pronounce patent?

How to pronounce patent

How to pronounce patent

At least once a week, one of my accent reduction coaching clients asks me how to pronounce the word patent.

Here’s my explanation.

How to pronounce patent

Lengthen the vowel sound in the first syllable.* Use an /ae/ as in Black vowel sound.

Do not use an /ay/ as in Gray sound. We don’t do that in the US.

There are two held t sounds.

The t before n is held. The /n/ sound becomes long.

The final t is held.

My spelling looks like this: pa➝’nn’

Listen here

How to speak clear American style English

In order to speak English in a style that’s clear to Americans, you need to learn the rules for:

If you learned English outside the US, you probably don’t use these sounds.

I show you exactly how to use these key features of American English in my accent reduction coaching program.

* most 2 syllable nouns are stressed on the first syllable.

The Most Common Sound in Spoken English

The Most Common Sound in Spoken English

The Schwa Vowel Sound

The Schwa Vowel Sound

Linguistic research indicates that the most common sound in spoken English is the schwa vowel sound.

The phonetic symbol for schwa is /ə/.

Schwa sounds like “uh”.

Why is schwa the most common sound?

The schwa is the most common sound because any vowel can have a schwa sound.

Native speakers of English use the schwa sound to pronounce vowels in reduced syllables.

Spoken English has a lot of reduced syllables…there’s a reduced syllable in most multisyllabic words.

That means we use əllodə schwa sounds when we speak!

Example of how we use schwa

Here is an example of how American English speakers use the schwa /ə/ sound.

Let’s take my name… Susan…

When I say Susan the first syllable is stressed. The /uw/ has a long clear sound.

The letter a in the second syllable is reduced. That “a” has a schwa sound. It sounds like “uh”.

Phonetic symbols

Using phonetic symbols my name looks like: ‘su:zən.

When I teach my accent reduction coaching clients about the schwa sound, I type my name like this: Suw→zǝn.

Listen here

 

Learn to use schwa

The schwa sound occurs in almost every word!

That’s why it’s the most common sound in English (even though most people have never heard of it).

You simply must learn to use the schwa vowel sound if you REALLY want to reduce your accent! ☝

 

 

Why is Th is so difficult to pronounce?

Why is Th is so difficult to pronounce?

Why is Th so difficult to pronounce?

Why is Th so difficult to pronounce?

Do you ever wonder why the Th is so difficult for non native English speakers to pronounce?

Here’s a very interesting article from The Economist that explains the historical-geographical reasons for this problem.

Indeed the dental fricatives, as they’re known, are rare, existing in European languages today only in languages on the continental periphery. The purple areas in the map below, from David Crystal’s Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, have the dental fricative today.

Read the full article and see the map

In the article the TH sounds are referred to as voiced and voiceless interdental fricatives. You can read the article at the link below.

Pronuncing the English TH sounds

Video Tutorial

To view my video tutorial on the TH sounds click HERE.

I show you how to pronounce both the voiced and voiceless TH sounds

Learn to speak clearly & professionally

If your goal is to learn to speak American English in a style that’s clear and professional, see how my accent reduction coaching program will  help you achieve that.

Quiz-How to Pronounce American Numbers

Quiz-How to Pronounce American Numbers

Many non native speakers don’t know the rules for pronouncing numbers correctly in American English.

How to pronounce American numbers

How to pronounce American numbers

Do you know the rules for stress, the T sounds and the TH sounds in numbers?

Take this short QUIZ to test your knowledge numbers.

Your score will be displayed when you finish the quiz.

American English Number Quiz

Do you use the correct syllable stress and T sounds when you say numbers in American English. Test your knowledge using this five question quiz.
Start
Congratulations - you have completed American English Number Quiz. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.

 

How do you say collaborative?

How do you say collaborative?

How do you say collaborative?

How do you say collaborative?

In my accent reduction coaching program, one word that I frequently work on with my clients is collaborative.

This can be a challenging word to pronounce if you don’t know how to use syllable stress & the schwa vowel sound.

Let’s break it down

The word collaborative has 5 syllables.  But we SAY it using only 4 syllables.

  1. The second syllable has the most stress.  So the A in that syllable needs a long, clear /ae/ sound.
  2. The first syllable is reduced. So the O in that syllable needs a reduced schwa /ə/ vowel sound.
  3. The T in the last syllable should be said with a quick /d/ sound.

Respelled version

Here’s my respelling of this word

cəLA→brədive

Listen here

The spelled version doesn’t really match the pronunciation, does it? That’s why I use respelling with my clients.

Other words that my clients learn to say correctly

Here are a few other words that I teach my accent reduction coaching clients to say clearly & correctly

  1. environmental
  2. developmental
  3. methodical
  4. world
  5. alternatives

Once you learn the rules for syllable stress & schwa, you’ll be able to say these words and hundreds of others, in a way that Americans understand right away.

Check out accent reduction coaching

If you’re an international professional who’s motivated to improve the way you communicate, follow the link below to see how I can help you.

Personal accent reduction coaching with Susan

Spring is here. And it’s an excellent time to renew your communication goals with someone who is committed to your success.

Communication Skills in MBA Programs

Communication Skills in MBA Programs

Communication Skills in MBA Programs

Communication Skills in MBA Programs

A recent Wall Street Journal article describes how some well known MBA programs have stepped up the way the teach communication skills to students who are about to graduate.

How Are They Doing This?

Top MBA schools including Duke are helping international students to communicate during job interviews and networking events.

This is important, because graduating MBA students want to get the best jobs available. And having a clear, engaging and confident communication style is critical for landing these type of jobs.

Real World Skills

In my accent reduction coaching program, I’ve worked with MBA students from Wharton, Georgetown, Duke, Harvard, Ross and other American Universities.

While their communication skills were good enough on campus, they found that they were not as successful in the job market as they wanted.

Small Talk Too

Making small talk with clients, colleagues is another area that my MBA graduates often want to work on. They understand that in the US, small talk is a critical component for career success.

Here’s the Article

You can read the article here, Communication Skills in MBA Programs

 

Respelling helps pronunciation

Respelling helps pronunciation

Respelling helps pronunciation

Respelling helps pronunciation

When I work with my accent reduction coaching clients on their American English pronunciation, one strategy that I use is respelling.

Why respelling works

One reason American English is difficult to pronounce is because there’s not always a clear correspondence between spelling and pronunciation.

Respelling means that when one of my clients is struggling to pronounce a word correctly, I respell the word the way it’s pronounced.

Two examples

Here are two examples of words that I usually respell for my clients.

1. vehicle

I spell it like this vee→ᵞəkəl

2. developmental

I spell it like this dəveləpme→nnəl

These respellings always help my clients pronounce these tough words clearly & correctly.

Listen here

 

Stress & schwa symbols

I use this symbol → to indicate the vowel sound that should be stressed.

I use the schwa symbol /ə/ to indicate which vowel sounds should be reduced.

Learn the correct pronunciation of any word

I believe that you can learn to pronounce any word with more clarity if you understand the patterns for stress & schwa.

Respelling helps my accent reduction coaching clients SEE these patterns.

When my clients are able to SEE these patterns using respelling, they are able to pronounce words correctly.