Abdi’s American English
This week I completed an accent assessment for Abdi, a very bright international MBA student.
Abdi has a terrific command of English. He reads and writes extremely well. But when it comes to speaking English in a way that Americans understand, he falls short.
Even though his grammar and vocabulary are above average, people in the US don’t always understand him when he speaks.
His professors were off base
The professors at Abdi’s university told him that Americans don’t understand him because he doesn’t articulate his P & B sounds correctly.
During our assessment, I told Abdi that his professors were wrong.
I’m not saying that Abdi’s P & B sounds are perfect, but they are very decent. His pronunciation of the P & B sounds doesn’t create breakdowns in communication.
Abdi’s real challenge
The real reason why Americans don’t understand Abdi is because he doesn’t speak with intonation.
✧ Because Abdi doesn’t use intonation, his speech sounds flat and monotonous.
✧ Because Abdi doesn’t use intonation, he doesn’t sound friendly.
✧ Because Abdi doesn’t use intonation to emphasize important words, Americans can’t always understand what he’s saying.
Nobody told him
Back in his home country, Abdi never learned to speak with intonation. In fact, anyone who learned American English primarily through reading and writing, never learned to do this.
However, every non native speaker needs to focus on intonation in order to speak clear, friendly and engaging American English.
Do you speak with the correct intonation?
Do you use intonation when you speak American English? If you learned English outside of North America, you probably don’t.
That’s why I teach you to use intonation in all my American accent classes.
Once you learn to speak using American style intonation, people will understand you more easily. I guarantee it!
Follow the link above to take a couple of free trial lessons.
About the author
Susan Ryan is an accent reduction coach. Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.