Spoken English Tutorial – What you need to know for a better American English accent
I want to talk to you about the several points that will definitely help you with improving you American English Accent.
You probably know the common problems of people who have learn English as their second language – despite their effort they can’t sound like a true native and all the advices they are give are – practice more, talk to natives – are not that useful. Well, here are the myths.
Just talking more doesn’t give you anything, unless you have a good Foundation
Yes, before driving all your energy towards something you need to have a direction. That’s why they say the foundation is the most important thing and it pertains true whether you’d be talking about building a skyscraper or learning a skill, like our skill – speaking perfect American English.
Natives don’t always give a good advice, because they’ve learnt the language unconsciously and sometimes they can’t explain what they are doing themselves. That’s why you hear the poor advices such as “speak slower, and be more clear”. Actually it is not exactly that.
It is not just about learning sounds
People don’t have problem with pronouncing individual sounds usually. Well, in your case it might not be so, but remember that just learning phonetics alphabet by heart you won’t suddenly acquire that American speech. Why you ask? Well, mostly because it is not only about learning individual sounds. When you hear “Bob is on the phone” do you spell it as “Bob is on the phone” or “Babizonthefound” (something like this)? Well, the latter is more correct.
So again, most people have problem not with individual sounds. There are other areas you should be paying attention to as well and here they are
Connect the words! Don’t read them one by one!
As in the previous example, you should have already figured out that there is something more about this topic that the eyes can’t see. We all learnt printed English first and never were taught how natives actually think and speak in our classes. And that’s bad , because an American kid doesn’t learn the language from a book – he learns it from imitating his parents. That’s why he is able to speak exactly like an American, while foreigners sound like they are talking word by word, which, by the way is not a correct way to go about this.
So, as I’ve said you probably are one of those who likes to read word by word and think that this is the correct way to speak the language. No, there has to be sound connections between the words. For example, you know the common “slang” “do you wanna do it”? Well, the thing is this “slang” ,if you try to read it out on purpose, will sound silly and forced, but if you read “Do you want to do it” fast enough, gloating the sounds, you will notice that you naturally blend the words and it sounds exactly like “do you wanna do it”.
Speak like an American!
Listen to how an American speaks. He uses intonation. In Holywood movies it is less obvious, but the intonation is still there – there is a higher pitch at the beginning of the sentence and a downwards trend as the sentence go on.
Also Americans like to use intonation to emphasize their message, give a tone to their message, introduce a new information and etc.
Try to say “Did I steal the car?” and “Did I steal the car?”. The first suggests that HE didn’t steal the car, while the latter suggests that he didn’t steal the CAR (but probably something else)
Now that you know the basic principles you should start paying more attention to them. Everyday you should examine your speech to see if you are doing a good American intonation or not, if you are speaking the words one by one (which is incorrect), and if you know how to pronounce every sound correctly (like ‘th’, schwa and etc).
Get the right foundation and everything else will follow. With hard consistent work.
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