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


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.


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.

Thanks for visiting!

ConfidentVoice Facebook Page

ConfidentVoice Facebook Page

American English Everyday Dialogs

American English Everyday Dialogs 

American English Dialogs

American English Dialogs

The people who I work with in my Skype accent reduction coaching program are learning to:

  • Communicate with clarity and confidence in their workplace
  • Improve the way they speak in everyday situations (at the market, at lunch, on the phone)

Small Talk

We often call the latter skill, “small talk”. But really, it’s not small at all.

That’s because speaking clearly when you pick up the phone or chat with your colleagues at lunch is really important.

Small talk allows you to connect with people.

  • Those connections enhance your relationships.
  • Those connections allow you to get things done faster.
  • Those connections allow you to be recognized for your contributions.

Free Dialog Practice Activities

For those of you who want to improve your American English “small talk”, below is a link to some excellent everyday dialogs said with super clear North American accents.

American English Everyday Dialogs

The dialog site has some special accent tips for Russian speakers.

These are great dialogs, so be sure to check them out!


How to speak with charisma

When it comes to speaking people have different needs

How to speak with charisma

How to speak with charisma

Everyone who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program is a little bit different.

Some of the people I work with speak in a manner that’s really challenging for Americans to understand.

And we take care of that.

Other people already speak with clarity, but they want to learn to speak in a manner that’s more engaging and charismatic to the American listener.

How to speak with charisma

When I work with people who want to speak in a way that’s engaging and charismatic, such as people in sales, management and teaching, I focus on these features:

  1. speaking with the right pace
  2. using pitch emphasis on important words
  3. using pauses to highlight important phrases
  4. using rising falling intonation to bring sentences to a close

Because science says

I teach these skills because science has found that people who speak using the right pace, pauses and intonation sound more charismatic to the native listener.

People who speak with the right pace, use pauses and the correct intonation sound more clear and more confident.

They don’t sound timid or in a hurry. They sound confident when delivering their message.

Non native English speakers can learn to speak with charisma

If you’re a non native English speaker, you can learn to speak in a way that sounds engaging and charismatic.

But you’ll probably need some personal training if you’re ready to learn this.

Video case studies 

In my accent reduction coaching program I use video case studies of speakers including Vic Gundotra, Indra Nooyi, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt & Kelly McGonigal to show you exactly how charismatic speakers deliver their messages.

Studying great speakers, with explicit guidance on what to listen for and mirror, is a technique used by famous speech coaches such as Roger Love.

I teach you to do this in a way that’s customized to the needs of non native speakers.

Send me a message

If you want more information, send me a message at susan@confidentvoice.com. I’ll send you a PFD that describes how I can help you achieve your communication goals.


American English Pronunciation The Letter G

How to pronounce the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

This week, one of my accent reduction coaching clients was a bit surprised to realize that when the letter G occurs at the beginning of a word, it can have a soft sound or a hard sound.

The sounds of the letter G

In American English pronunciation the letter G sometimes has a soft /ʤ/ sound .

The letter G sometimes has a hard /g/ sound.

Here are the rules

The letter G has a soft /ʤ/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • giant
  • genuine
  • gym
  • generous

Listen here 


The letter G has a hard /g/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • go
  • gave
  • get
  • gone
  • gigabyte

 Listen here 


Why does the G have different sounds?

Some of the reasons for the different sounds are historic.

  1. Most words of Germanic origin (gift, get, got) begin with a hard /g/ sound.
  2. Most words of Greek origin (gymnasium, gymnastics) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.
  3. Most words of Romance origin (geography, giant, general) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.

BTW~ if you work in technology, the word gigabyte is pronounced with two hard Gs. The prefix, “giga” comes from a Greek word meaning “giant.”

 Arabie, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Bengali, Telegu & Gujarati Speakers

In my experience as an accent reduction coach, Spanish speakers, Arabic speakers, French speakers, Japanese speakers, Korean speakers and some Indian English speakers have problems articulating the soft g sound /ʤ/.

Learn more

To learn more about the sounds of the letter G, follow the link below to read an entertaining article about this sound.

Sounds of the letter G

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How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

Communicate clearly with Americans

Communicate clearly with Americans

How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

When people first contact me for accent reduction training, they often say…

Susan, I want learn how to communicate clearly with Americans.

  1. They want to communicate in a way that’s clear.
  2. They want to communicate in a way that Americans respect.
  3. They want to communicate in a way that Americans connect with.

These are excellent and achievable goals!

Accent Reduction Coaching

When you sign up to work with me in my accent reduction coaching program, I start out by asking you to tell my your communication goals.

Then I give you a complete and detailed Assessment so that you can understand WHY your speech doesn’t always sound clear to American listeners.

I then choose 4 objectives for us to work on together during your coaching sessions.

These are objectives that I believe will bring you closer to your communication goals.

Not Accent Elimination

Some people tell me that they want to eliminate their accents.  That probably won’t happen.

Losing your accent takes years. And for most people, it’s simply not necessary!

If your goal is to communicate clearly with Americans, I can help you achieve that!

Read More About How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

This blog is packed with TIPS on how you can communicate more clearly with Americans.

Choose another post below to read more. Or sign up in the box on the right hand side of the page to get these tips in your email.

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Do you know why your accent is hard for Americans to understand?

What I mean is, do you know exactly what you are saying or not saying correctly?

One very common problem

One on the most common reasons Americans don’t understand you is probably the is the way you stress in words and sentences.

What is stress?

Let me explain what I mean by stress…..

American speakers alternate between using stressed & unstressed words in phrases and sentences. They don’t pronounce every word with the same emphasis.

If you emphasize every word equally, Americans will have a hard time understanding you.

Here’s an example

In the following short greeting, listen to how I stress the most important words.

Hi SUSAN, how ARE you TODAY? ⤵

The pattern sounds like this~laLAla laLAlalala

Listen here


Using stress correctly is a key skill

Learning to use stress correctly when you speak American English is a key skill that you must apply if you want to make your accent easier to understand!

The American accent is not just about articulation of sounds

Many people believe that if they articulate every vowel & consonant sound clearly and correctly, they’ll have a perfect American accent.

This is not how it works!!!

Articulation is important…..but… even if you say every vowel and consonant sound correctly, your speech will be hard for Americans to understand if you use the incorrect STRESS patterns.

Accent reduction coaching

When you work with me in my accent reduction coaching programs, I teach you how to use stress correctly so that Americans will understand you.

That’s because this feature of American English is CRITICAL for comprehensibility!

Read more or sign up to get these posts in your email

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about speaking clear and professional sounding American English, read more of the posts here on my ConfidentVoice blog.

Or sign up to get these posts in your email. The sign up box is over there on the right.

How to blend sounds for smooth American speech

How to blend sounds for smooth American speech

Smooth American speech

Smooth American speech

Here’s an accent reduction TIP for those of you who want your American speech to sound smooth.

Blending consonant sounds

When you’re speaking American English, there are many consonants that don’t always sound sharp and distinct.

Instead, they’re blended together to make new sound.

Blending examples

When these words that end with an /s/ or /z/ or /t/ are followed by the word your,  the blended sound is /tch/ or /zh/.

  1. that your = thatcher
  2. what’s your= whatcher
  3. how’s your =howzher
  4. put your=putcher

Listen here


Palatalized sounds

Linguists call these blended sounds, “palatalized”  because your tongue moves over the hard palate on the roof of your mouth when you say them.

Why is blending important for a good American accent? 

If you’re only interested in pronunciation, don’t worry about blending.

People will understand you if you pronounce every sound distinctly.

Smooth American speech vs choppy American speech

But if you want your American English to sound smooth and natural, I strongly suggest you learn to using blending techniques.

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Russian

speakers don’t usually use blending techniques. Not doing this will make your speech sounds CHOPPY to the American listener.

Your lack of melody makes it tiring for Americans to listen to you.

You may even come across as unfriendly!

American accent coaching

In my accent reduction coaching programs, I teach you how to blend sounds for smooth American speech.

I teach you how to speak in a way that sounds smooth, clear and professional.

If smooth communication is important for you in your career, take a look at what I have to offer.