All About the American T

All About the American T 

All About the American T

All About the American T

Many accent reduction coaches, including myself,  like to say that“T is for Trouble”.

We say that because the letter T has 4 different sounds when you are speaking American English.

The sounds of the American T

We have the

Learning the sounds of the American T is one feature of American English that my accent reduction coaching clients love to work on.

They’re easy to learn and apply

Most people learn to use the American T sounds fairly quickly!

My accent reduction coaching clients usually master these sounds within a few weeks.

Learn & practice the American T sounds

Are you aware of the sounds of the American T?

Have you heard them?

I teach you all about the American T sounds in my iBook, American Accent Fundamentals.

American Accent Fundamentals - Susan M. Ryan

You can download the first chapter for free at the iBookstore.

American English Pronunciation for Aviation

American English Pronunciation for Aviation

American English Pronunciation for Aviation

American English Pronunciation for Aviation

In my accent reduction coaching program I sometimes have the honor of working with aviation professionals working in the military.

One great resource that I recommend they use for practice is called Spoken Skills.

Spoken Skills for Aviation

This website has audio examples of aviation vocabulary that my clients use to practice between sessions. You can even record yourself on the site.

This is an excellent site for those of you working in aviation so be sure to check it out at the link below.

American English pronunciation practice for aviation

Pronouncing Voiced & Voiceless Consonant Sounds

Pronouncing Voiced & Voiceless Consonant Sounds

Feel those voiced consonant sounds

Feel those voiced consonant sounds!

Are you an Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese or Spanish speaker who is working to improve your American accent?

If you are….it’s really important that you learn to use  voiced consonant sounds!

Let me explain what I mean…..

Voiced consonant sounds

voiced sound causes your vocal chords to vibrate.

You should feel a significant vibration in your vocal chords when you say a voiced sound.

Voiceless consonant sounds

voiceless sound does not cause your vocal chords to vibrate.

You should not feel a significant vibration in your vocal chords when you say a voiceless sound.


  • Put your fingers lightly on your throat & say “zoo”.
  • You should feel a vibration when you say the /z/.
  • Keep your fingers on your throat & say “Sue”.
  • You should not feel a strong vibration when you say the /s/.
  • Put your fingers lightly on your throat & say “save”.
  • You should feel a vibration when you say the /v/.
  • Keep your fingers on your throat & say “safe”.
  • You should not feel a vibration when you say the /f/.

American English has 15 voiced consonant sounds

American English has many voiced consonant sounds; there are 15, to be exact.

But many non-native speakers never learned to say these sounds with the correct voicing.

Failure to use correct voicing

When you say these sounds without the correct voicing, it contributes to your foreign accent.

When American English speakers don’t hear those sounds clearly, especially at the ends of words, your words will sound incomplete.

American listeners won’t always understand what you are saying!

How can you learn to articulate voiced consonant sounds?

An excellent & very affordable book for learning to use these voiced consonant sounds is:

Pronunciation Pairs Student’s Book with Audio CD

I used this book when I taught pronunciation classes in Minneapolis &  Washington, DC.

It’s easy to use, with lots of pictures & diagrams. Check it out at the link above.

American English Pronunciation: R & L Sounds

Many non-native English speakers have problems pronouncing the American consonants /r/ and /l/.  Since /r/ and /l/ are found at the beginning and end of many  English words it is important to pronounce these sounds correctly.

Here are a few tips you can use to make these sounds.

Making the /r/ sound

To make the /r/ raise your tongue into a bunched up position. Do not touch the top of your mouth with your tongue!

Practice by saying these words: red, raid, wrist, right, wrong, rice

Making the /l/ sound

To make the /l/ touch the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. The flow of air through your mouth should move freely.

Practice by saying these words: led, laid, list, light, long, lice

Click here to view my video tutorial on the /r/ & /l/ sounds.

For more pronunciation practice with the sounds /r/ & /l/ you can click here to practice by using the popular American children’s song Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

This is challenging, but it’s really FUN!

To read related posts on this topic click on the links below. The 0 means closed for comments.

American English Spelling & Pronunciation

Do you ever feel like the English spelling system does not match the sounds of spoken American English? It seems that way doesn’t it?

English spelling is the way that words are written using the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet. Since English is not a phonetic language there is not always a one-on-one relationship between the letters in the English alphabet and spoken sounds.

This lack of sound spelling correspondence makes English a very difficult language to pronounce. Let’s look at some sound-spelling situations that are frequently confusing to non-native speakers of American English. We’ll start with the letter s.

When you are speaking English the letter s can represent several different sounds depending on its location within a word.

In the words simple and same the s sounds like /s/. This is what most non-native speakers expect. The /s/ is a voiceless sound

In the words resign and design the s sounds like /z/. The letter s is often pronounced as /z/ when it occurs between vowels. The /z/ is a voiced sound.

In the words leisure and pleasure the s sounds like /ʒ/. This is also a voiced sound. The s often sounds like /ʒ/ before a schwa vowel sound.

The fact that the letter s is pronounced three different ways can be very confusing when you are trying to pronounce English correctly!

One way to improve your pronunciation is to be aware of the variety of sounds that some letters can have.

The best way to do this is to listen attentively when American English speakers are talking. Try to increase your awareness of sounds and spelling patterns. Enhanced listening skills are one of the first steps in improving your American English pronunciation.

American English Pronunciation: R Colored Vowels

When I do accent reduction coaching with my clients from Japan, Korea, China, Latin America (and sometimes India, France & Haiti) we work on the sounds of the American R.

As you can see….he American English r is a very difficult sound for many non-native speakers to articulate correctly! ✔

The American English r sounds like /ɚ/. The sound is made by bunching the middle of the tongue high in the back of the mouth and rounding the lips. The tip of the tongue curls up a bit, but it never touches the roof of the mouth.

When a vowel is followed by an r, the vowel sound changes. These are called r-controlled vowels, or r-colored vowels.

Here are some of the phonemes you will hear.

The letters ar can sound like /ɑɚ/ as in: car, guitar & star.

The letters ear can sound like /iɚ/ as in: near, fear & beard.

The letters or usually sound like /ɔɚ/ as in: or, more & course.

The letters ir, er and ur, sound like /ɚ/ as in: bird, were, & fur.

Since the sounds of r-colored vowels are so complicated, many pronunciation books and courses simplify these.

The best book that I know of for learning the r-colored vowel sounds is Ann Cook’s American Accent Training. You can see the book by clicking on the link below.

American Accent Training (Book and Audio CD, 2nd Edition)

Remember that perfecting the pronunciation of R will not give you a perfect accent. Some people think this is true….

Speaking clear American English, in a way that Americans will understand you, depends on using both sounds & stress patterns correctly.

I teach you all of these features for clear spoken English in my Skype accent reduction coaching program.

The Importance of Voiced and Voiceless Sounds

The Importance of Voiced and Voiceless Sounds

In spoken American English there are many pairs of consonant sounds that are articulated using the same tongue and mouth shape.

Some Consonant Sounds are Voiced

The difference between these pairs of sounds is that one sound is voiced and the other is voiceless.

Voiced sounds cause the vocal chords to vibrate. Voiceless sounds do not cause the vocal chords to vibrate.

When you voice a consonant, it sounds different.

Three Examples

Voiced sounds

Voiced sounds

In spoken English the /s/ & /z/ sounds employ the same tongue position and mouth shape however:

  • the /z/ is voiced and the /s/ is voiceless

The English /k/ & /g/ sounds are both produced in the back of the throat however:

  • the /g/ is voiced and the /k/ is voiceless

The /p/ & /b/ sounds are both made by pushing your lips together and then releasing them however:

  • the /b/ is voiced and the /p/ is voiceless

Non Native Speakers Often Omit Voiced Consonant Sounds

Many non native speakers don’t voice important consonant sounds. Some people omit these sounds when they speak.

Other people use the voiceless sounds /s/, /k/ & /p/ when they should use the voiced sounds /z/, /g/ & /b/.

Making these types of pronunciation mistake will contribute to your accent, compromise your grammar,  and create breakdowns in communication.

American English Pronunciation for Brazilian-Portuguese Speakers

Here is an accent reduction tip for Brazilian-Portuguese speakers who want to improve their spoken American English.

Be careful when you pronounce the letter P!

Brazilian-Portuguese speakers often pronounce the American English /p/ sound like a /b/ sound.

This can be confusing to American listeners because when you do that because:

pill sounds like bill

pull sounds like bull

poor sounds like boor

Peter sounds like beater

The /p/ and /b/ sounds are articulated almost the same way in spoken American English.

To make both sounds place your lips lightly together and then push the air out of your mouth in a short burst.

The difference is that /p/ is a voiceless sound and /b/ is a voiced sound.

When you make the /p/ sound you should not feel a vibration in your throat. When you make the /b/ sound you should feel a vibration in your throat.

There are many more American English pronunciation TIPS for Brazilian-Portuguese speakers here on my blog. Just click on one of the links below to learn MORE!

Pronouncing the Voiced th Sound

The voiced th sound is one of the most problematic sounds for non-native English speakers to pronounce.

To make the sound place your tongue slightly between your teeth. Vibrate your vocal chords as you push the air through your throat.

While there are not that many words that have the voiced th sound, the words that do have this sound are frequently used. Here are a few examples:

the, there, their, this, that, these, those, brother, mother, father, together

Read more about voiced and voiceless sounds in American English.