July 12, 2018
Here are my top 10 tips for you to help improve your American English accent pronunciation. Hint, it DOES NOT include watching all of those videos on YouTube.
1. Record Yourself Use your smart phone or laptop to record yourself. This is the best way to hear how you sound to other people and it's helpful to see and hear yourself as a listener would. Don't only listen to how you pronounce words. Instead look at the overall picture: are you speaking at a comfortable volume to the listener? Are you speaking to fast or slow? Are you using language that is appropriate for the situation (professional language for a business setting)? All of these will contribute to sounding better.
2. Find an American accent role model Do you have a favorite TV show or watch the evening news every day? Choose someone you hear everyday who has an American English Accent and listen to their pronunciation, rate of speech and the sounds in certain common words. You can practice at home trying to speak like they do. You can also use resources from experienced accent coaches to give you the right model for American English accent pronunciation.
3. Get Feedback from a Friend you Trust
If you feel like you still have more to work on with your American English Accent, ask a friend to give you feedback or watch videos of you talking. You can even ask for an honest critique from a friend after talking on the phone.
4. Pronounce Sounds Clearly This one is very important. Pronounce all the sounds in words clearly. Especially the last sound in a word. For example, instead of saying “workin” say “working,” and instead of saying “seve” vs. “seven.”
5. Project your Voice Use your voice efficiently and face the listener when you talk. Take a good breath when you are about to speak and relax. Whether or not you pronounce every word in an American English Accent, speaking in a clear and strong voice will help you communicate efficiently and confidently.
6. Speak a Bit Slower You can stretch out the vowel sounds in words to decrease the speed at which you speak just a bit. This gives listeners time to think about what you are saying or have a chance to reply. You can also pause or put the information you want to say into chunks by pausing where a comma or period might be.
7. Remember Stress and Intonation Try to remember to vary your stress and intonation patterns. Don't speak in a robotic monotone. Stress the most important word in a sentence by slightly increasing the pitch and volume of that word. Think about the difference between sentences when you stress different words. For example, the difference between "I have a GREAT lunch," versus "I had a great LUNCH." There are a lot of American English pronunciation stress rules that you might need to learn, which are posted here.
8. Practice all the Time Every time you speak is an opportunity to practice your American English pronunciation. Whether you're at work, buying movie tickets or saying hello to your neighbor, use each opportunity to practice the strategies you've learned.
9. Practice Stress Rules When Reading There are nouns your email, compound nouns at the grocery store and numbers on your smartphone calendar. These are all opportunities to practice commenting using the proper stress rules. Learn the rules and then use these opportunities throughout the day to use the learned techniques.
10. Get a Professional Opinion It's difficult for all of us to know what might still be slowing down our progress. When you feel like you've taken your learning as far as you can on your own, consider contacting a professional in American English Accent pronunciation to take you to the next level.
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