What’s the best way to reduce my accent?
Two of the best ways to reduce your accent and speak American English clearly and smoothly are:
- Learn to use American English syllable stress patterns
- Learn to use American English intonation patterns.
If you can learn to use American English syllable stress and intonation patterns, you will make noticeable changes to the way you speak.
Why is syllable stress important?
One key feature of American English that is different from your language (Mandarin, Spanish, Tamil, French, etc) is this.
In longer words, in words with more than one syllable, one syllable is always stressed.
The stressed syllable gets more emphasis than the other syllables.
Americans identify words according to the stressed syllable. If you stress a word on the wrong syllable, we will not understand you.
Here are two examples.
If you say the word percent with stress on the first syllable, PERcent, an American listener will think you’re saying person.
You need to stress the word perCENT on the second syllable if you want Americans to understand it correctly.
If you say thirteen with stress on the first syllable, THIRteen, an American listener will think you’re saying thirty.
You need to stress the word thirTEEN on the second syllable if you want Americans to understand it correctly.
Follow this link to see & hear more examples.
Why is intonation important?
Using the correct intonation is another key to speaking with an American accent.
That’s because using the correct intonation patterns will make you sound more friendly, more clear & much more interesting.
Using American style intonation will take that “flat” tone that you may be using to speak English and change it into a warm & familiar melody! ♬
The American listener
The American listener expects to hear people speaking with the correct syllable stress.
The American listener expects to hear people speaking with a rising and rising falling intonation style.
If you fail to do that, your speech will sound foreign and unfamiliar to Americans.
If you can learn to use syllable stress and intonation, your speech will sound less foreign.
Your messages will sound more clear and more familiar.
I can show you how
I teach you to speak with the correct syllable stress and intonation in all of my American Accent Training programs.
Take a look at my courses and sign up for a free trial right here.
Syllable stress and intonation are key features of the American accent. You’ll continue to speak with a heavy foreign accent until you learn to use them correctly.
My courses will show you proven techniques for learning to use syllable stress and intonation.
You’ll be able to make noticeable changes to the way you speak American English.
About the author
Susan Ryan is the author of this blog and an accent reduction coach. She helps career minded international professionals speak American English with clarity and confidence.