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.

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

 

Common Words Ending With /z/

Common Words Ending With /z/

Common Words Ending With /z/

Common Words Ending With /z/

In spoken American English many words end with a /z/ sound. 

The letter at the end of the word may be S, but the sound of the letter is often /z/.

Say these common words ending with a /z/ sound.

  1. these
  2. those
  3. is 
  4. was 
  5. says
  6. does

Listen here.

 

There are many more!

Why is this important?

One key reason that using a /z/ sound is important is because vowels that occur before the voiced /z/ sound are nice and long.

And if you know anything about clear spoken American English, you understand how we love to hear long, clear vowel sounds.

Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic speakers often fail to use the /z/ sound correctly.

How to make small talk

How to make small talk

How to make small talk

How to make small talk

A very  important communication skill that I work on with my accent reduction coaching clients is how to make small talk.
Small talk with strangers….this can be awkward.
Tip #1 ask questions
I suggest that you ask them open ended questions.
These are often WH type questions such as:
  1. Where did your grow up? I’ve never been there….could you tell me more about it?
  2. Where did you go to school? Why did you choose _________? What did you like about it?
  3. Have you always lived here is __________? Where else have you lived?
  4. What restaurants can you recommend in ______________?
  5. What’s your current favorite game/sport/hobby?

Tip #2 listen attentively 
Once you get them talking, and most people LOVE to talk about themselves, you should:

  • Try to listen attentively
  • Agree with or comment on what they said
  • Relate a similar experience that you’ve had

Let’em talk!

In other words, use questions that encourage others to talk and then add your 2 cents.
Follow this link to read more about how to make small talk in American English.

Use focus word pitch for clarity

Use focus word pitch for clarity

Use focus word pitch for clarity

Use focus word pitch for clarity

One of the most useful American English communication tips I give my accent reduction coaching clients is this-

When a conversation breaks down ☹…. think about the most important word in your message.

This is called the focus word.

Use pitch emphasis

Repeat that focus word again.

But this time, be careful to emphasize that word using a slight rise in pitch.

Lengthen the vowel sound → a little bit.

Insert a pause

Then pause briefly. This will give your listener time to “get it”.

Here’s an example:

I’ll meet with the ma→nager⤼ on Tue→sday.

Listen here

To say this sentence clearly:

  • stress the word manager
  • pause briefly
  • then stress the word Tuesday

Don’t give the same emphasis to every word.

There is an excellent chance that using this pitch emphasis strategy will clear up the misunderstanding.

 Learn the rules for clear American speech

I teach you the rules for using focus words and pitch emphasis in my iPad book for the American accent.

American Accent Fundamentals - Susan M. Ryan

Click the button above to download the first chapter for free at the iBookstore.

Most Effective Way to Reduce Your Accent

Most Effective Way to Reduce Your Accent

Most effective way to reduce your accent

Most effective way to reduce your accent

What’s the most effective way to reduce your accent?

What’s the most effective way for learning to speak clear and engaging American English?

Here’s some ideas

  1. Watch American English pronunciation videos on YouTube
  2. Use an American accent or pronunciation book
  3. Take an accent reduction class in your community
  4. Download an accent reduction app

All of these are good ways to learn.

But they probably won’t enable you to make the changes you desire.

Noticeable changes

What’s the best way to make noticeable changes to the way you speak?

What’s the best way to integrate and apply all the little lessons you’ve learned using YouTube, books, apps & classes?

Personal coaching

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that almost everyone who wants to make real, noticeable changes to the way they speak American English needs some personal coaching.

Why is personal coaching so important?

You can learn to say your vowel & consonant sounds correctly using the methods I listed above.

You may even be able to learn to use the correct syllable stress & intonation using the above methods.

But integrating the correct vowel & consonant sounds with the correct syllable stress, intonation and linking takes some serious work.

And this is the kind of work that most people need a coach to help them with.

Personal feedback

Most people need the personal feedback that only an experienced accent reduction coach can provide.

They need lessons that’ll help them integrate & apply all they’ve learned using YouTube, books, apps & classes.

They need to talk to someone about their communication challenges. Someone who will listen and help them speak real and relevant American English in day to day situations.

Customized & personal sessions

In their personalized sessions, most people make significant changes to the way they speak!

Here’s an email message that I recently received from a successful client:

Hi Susan,

I just had a great phone meeting with a support person and I loved every minute of our conversation.

It was a complex scenario to explain and he understood me very well

without me repeating it. And I was pausing after each important word.

Ahhha…. The joy of good communication.

How about you?

The above situation can happen for you too!

If you’re serious about investing some time and money (yes it’s a small investment) to really improve the way you speak American English, follow this link.

You’ll see how my accent reduction coaching program can help you achieve your communication goals.

Or, just keep reading more of the posts here on my ConfidentVoice blog.

If you’re just getting started, there’s a lot you can learn right here.

 

 

How to pronounce loose & lose

How to pronounce loose & lose

How to pronounce loose & lose

How to pronounce loose & lose

Sometimes pronouncing American English words correctly can drive you crazy.

That’s because the same letter, (in this case the letter S) can have more than one sound.

If you’re a non native speaker who learned English through reading instead of listening, you’re probably not aware of all the spoken patterns.

The sounds of the letter S

To explain what I mean about the letter S having more than one sound, let’s use the words loose & lose.

The adjective loose is pronounced with a /s/ sound. It sounds like luʷse.

The verb to lose is pronounced with a /z/ sound. It sounds like luʷ→ze.

Longer vowel sound

Notice that the /uʷ/ sound is much longer➝ in the word lose.

That’s because it occurs before a voiced /z/ sound.

Using the correct vowel length here is very, very important, especially if you want to speak with a clear American accent!

Here are two sentences you can use to practice the /s/ & /z/ sounds:

1. Did you lose some weight? (luʷ→ze)

2. Yes, and now my pants are too loose! (luʷse)

Listen here

 

Learn to use the correct sound

Just this week, I taught the sounds of the letter S to three of my accent reduction coaching clients (a Russian speaker, a Hindi speaker and a Spanish speaker).

All three were very surprised to learn that the S frequently has a /z/ sound.

No one has taught you the rules

There’s no need  to feel bad about not knowing all the rules for spoken English.

Only people who’ve taken some accent reduction training would be aware of this.

If clear American English communication is critical for your career success, find out how accent reduction coaching will help you!