Do You Speak English Too Fast?

Do You Speak English Too Fast?

Do you speak English too fast?

Do you speak English too fast?

Did you know that speaking English too quickly can contribute to your foreign accent?

It can!

Many of my accent reduction coaching clients have a habit of speaking English with a very fast pace.

Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese & Indian English Speakers

This is often true of Spanish speakers, Brazilian speakers and Indian English speakers.

When I ask them why they speak so fast, they say things like

“I think that if I speak quickly, no one will notice my accent.”

“In my country, if you speak too slowly, people will doubt your intelligence.”

This is Not True

When it comes to speaking clear and engaging American English,  it’s okay to speak slower.

In fact, it’s preferred.

I’m not saying that you should speak like a robot……

What I’m saying is that you should learn to speak in phrases and use pauses to create a better speaking pace.

Native Speakers Often Speak Quickly

Now, I know that native speakers do speak quickly sometimes.

But if you listen carefully, you’ll find this

  • We say some words quickly, but not all words.
  • We say important words with length and pitch emphasis.
  • We often pause after these words so that our listeners can process them.

3 TIPS for Speaking English with a Good Pace

  1. Bring attention to important words by emphasizing them.
  2. You can say the less important words quickly.
  3. Pause briefly after each important word. This will give your listeners time to process the word.

Using the 3 strategies described here will help you speak with a pace that Americans can easily understand.

I Can Teach You How to Speak with a Pace that Americans Understand

In my accent reduction coaching program, I teach you how to speak with a pace that Americans can understand.

I teach you to speak English in a way that Americans enjoy listening to.

Make 2015 YOUR year to improve the way you speak.  Improvement guaranteed! I can help you do it!

American English Words with Silent Sounds

American English Words with Silent Sounds

American English Words with Silent Sounds

American English Words with Silent Sounds

You already know that spoken American English and written American English are very different, right?

Here’s a short list of common words that have silent sounds.

American English Words with Silent Sounds

  1. practically                   prak-tikly
  2. automatically             automa-dikly
  3. mutually                     muʷ-chəlly
  4. thumb                         thum
  5. numb                           num
  6. herb                             erb
  7. salmon                        sa-mən
  8. Lincoln                        lin-kən

Listen Here

Make your Speech Sound Familiar

Saying these words with silent sounds will make your American English sound more familiar.

If you over-pronounce these words, they’ll sound unusual to American listeners.

Learn More

To learn more about American English spelling & pronunciation, follow the link.

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Many people who come to me for American accent coaching don’t have significant problems with their pronunciation….

….but they do need instruction on how to use stress and pitch!

Let me explain…..

Using pitch emphasis

When speaking American English you need to stress the most important words in a sentence or phrase using a slight rise in pitch.

When you use pitch emphasis on important words.  it brings your listeners’ attention to the critical words in your message.

It enables your listener to focus on what’s important.

Stress nouns & verbs more than other words

American speakers usually stress

  • nouns
  • verbs

Sometimes we stress adjectives.

Since nouns & verbs are usually critical to the meaning of a sentence we almost always emphasize them using a slight rise in pitch.

We don’t stress little words such as

  • the
  • it
  • but
  • a
  • to

We don’t say every word with the same emphasis!

So what happens if you don’t use pitch emphasis when you speak?

  1. Your speech will sound monotonous to your listeners because they can’t hear any pitch.
  2. Your listeners won’t know which words in your want them to pay attention to.
  3. Your listeners will have to concentrate extra hard to understand you.
  4. They’ll get tired of listening and sometimes they’ll give up.

Help your listeners to understand you 

If you want to speak American English more clearly you MUST learn to use pitch emphasis correctly. This will help native speakers understand you more easily.

Learn using my iPad book for the American accent

American Accent iPad bookI teach you the rules for speaking American English with the correct stress & pitch in

my iPad book ☆American Accent Fundamentals.

My iPad book is an excellent guide that will help you speak American English more clearly,

 

 

How to Stress Words in American English

Do You Know How to Stress Words in American English?

One of the most common questions my accent reduction clients ask is this~

Susan, which words should I stress when I speak American English?

It’s an excellent question!

American English Speakers Don’t Stress Every Word

After a few coaching sessions, my clients begin to understand that Americans don’t stress every word in a sentence.

That’s when I teach them the rules for word stress in sentences

Word Stress in Sentences

Here are some guidelines you can follow~

American English speakers stress (or emphasize) the most important words in a sentence or phrase.

Usually the most important words are

  • NOUNS
  • VERBS
  • ADJECTIVES

If you want to speak with increased clarity, you should do that too.

Reduce the Sound of Many Words

American English speakers reduce the sounds of smaller words. Little words like the ones below are usually reduced.

  • the
  • and
  • it
  • can

Focus Words, Content Words & Function Words

Pronunciation textbooks often use the terms Focus words, Content words & Function words when referring to word stress.

My Waves Analogy

I often say that the important words are like waves in the ocean. You need to rise up on each one by using more pitch.

The most important word (or focus word) is like a slightly bigger wave. You need to rise up on that word just a bit more.

The graphic below illustrates what I mean

 

 

Learn How to Stress Words in American English

Inn my iBook for the American accent, you’ll learn how to stress words in sentences so that you can speak more clearly

My iBook is easy to use. That’s because all of the audio and video lessons are built right into the book.

There are lots of practice exercises too!

If you are an iPad user, working to improve the way you speak American English, take a look at the details here ☛ American Accent iBook.

 

How do you pronounce equivalent?

How do you pronounce equivalent?

How do you pronounce equivalent?

How do you pronounce equivalent?

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

Equivalent is a challenging word, so let’s break it down by syllable.

How to say equivalent

1. The first e has a reduced schwa vowel sound /ǝ/.

2. The qu has a /kw/ sound.

3. The /i/ in the second syllable is stressed.

4. The a & e in the last two syllables have schwa vowel sounds /ǝ/.

5. The final T is held, don’t over pronounce it!

Listen to the answer!    ǝ KWI➝ vǝ lǝn’

 

Three things you need to know

In order to pronounce the word equivalent and many other American English words correctly, you need to know about

  1. the schwa sound
  2. the held T sound
  3. syllable stress rules

The schwa, held T and syllable stress are all key features of the American accent.

You can’t speak clear American English if you don’t know how to use these sounds.

Where can you learn to use these sounds?

I teach you to use the schwa sound, all the American T sounds and the rules for syllable stress in all my training programs.

Check out my programs and get ready to learn how Americans really speak!

 

Trending news & research on accents & communication

Trending news & research on accents & communication

Accent & communication news

Accent & communication news

Are you interested in reading new research and news stories about language, accents and communication?

If you are, follow the link below to check out my ConfidentVoice Facebook page.

The latest news on accents, language & communication

Everyday I post trending news articles and other free & interesting information that will educate & entertain you.

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ConfidentVoice Facebook Page

Use American Slang Correctly

You need to use American slang correctly 

Like two peas in a pod

Like two peas in a pod

Many of the people I work with in my accent reduction coaching program ask me

Susan, can we work on American slang and idioms in our sessions?

And I always agree to do that. Because I think using slang and idioms is an excellent idea….IF…you know how to say these correctly.

Use slang correctly, or don’t use it at all

This may sound harsh, but this is what I tell my clients.

If you’re not sure how to use slang or a particular idiomatic phrase correctly, it’s best not to say it at all.

That’s because when you use slang and idioms, substituting a word,  or stressing the wrong word will make the phrase sound unfamiliar to native speakers.

If you’re already feeling self conscious about the way you speak, using slang or idioms incorrectly will draw even more attention to your speech.

Most of the people I work with are trying to avoid that. They want their speech to sound familiar, not different.

Once you learn them, use them!

Once you’re certain that you’re saying a slang term or an idiomatic expression correctly, go ahead and use it.

People will connect with you because you’ve shown you really understand the culture.

Learn idioms here at English in a Minute

You can learn some common American idioms using these short videos from the VOA.

Learn them well and then start to use them!

 

Want smooth American speech? Use contractions!

Want Smooth American Speech? Use Contractions!

Use contractions for smooth American speech

Use contractions for smooth American speech

Many of the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program resist using contractions when they speak.

I tell them, that in American English you should DEFINITELY speak using contractions!

…..especially when you’re speaking in informal or casual situations.

Why Should You Use Contractions?

When you use contractions your speech sounds less formal.

You’ll sound more natural and more friendly.

Try This

Here’s a pronunciation tip for saying contractions in a smooth way~

When you say contractions with the consonants D & N,

  1. The D is held (said without much force).
  2. The sound of N is kinda long.
  3. The T is held (said without much force)

Listen Here

 

Written Contraction         Spoken Contraction

didn’t                                             di’nnn’
hadn’t                                            ha’nnn’
couldn’t                                        coul’nnn’
shouldn’t                                      shoul’nnn’
wouldn’t                                       woul’nnn’

Could your hear the way I held the sounds of D & T?

This Might Feel Uncomfortable to You

When my accent reduction coaching clients first try these contracted pronunciations, they say that it feels uncomfortable.

However, after they practice these contracted forms, they realize that their speech sounds smoother and more natural. ♬

Written & Spoken English Are Not The Same

Keep in mind that written English and spoken English are very different.

We don’t say every written sound clearly and distinctly.

If you want your speech to sound more American, don’t do that!

People With Advanced Degrees

People with advanced degrees that focused on academic and written English, often need to learn the rules for speaking.

If you’re an international professional who wants to learn to speak American English with a smoother, more natural sound, see how my Skype accent reduction coaching program can help you.

 

How Churchill, Jobs Became Great Speakers

How Churchill & Jobs Became Great Speakers 

Steve Jobs Became a Great Speaker

Steve Jobs Became a Great Speaker

Do you admire great speakers?

I do! And I fully understand that great speakers are not born.

Great speaking is a skill that must be learned.

Churchill & Jobs

Winston Churchill & Steve Jobs are both considered to be great speakers.

But when they started speaking and spreading their respective messages, both men were nervous and inarticulate.

Churchill used vocabulary words that were too long.

Jobs was so nervous in the early years, that he felt sick when he had to speak.

Training & Practice

Over the years, with training and practice, both men became exemplary and inspirational speakers.

Accent Reduction

It’s the same thing with accent reduction.

No matter what you may have head on the web, accent reduction doesn’t happen overnight.

You won’t lose your accent just because you bought one book, an app or online program.

Reducing your accent takes time. For most people this involves personal training.

You Can Be a Great Speaker

Even if you didn’t grow up speaking American English, you can be a great English speaker.

Look at Vic Gundotra, Ruchi Sanghvi, Ping Fu & Shakira.

They are all excellent English speakers, and they weren’t born in North America.

Join Me

If you’re a non native speaker of American English….and your goal is to be a great speaker…..

…see how my accent reduction coaching program will help you become the communicator you want to be.

Read About Churchill & Jobs in Forbes

As Carmine Gallo writes about Jobs & Churchill in Forbes, great speaking is a skill that must be learned.

Follow the link to read the entire article