Spoken English Tutorial - Want To Learn An American Accent?
Do you want to learn the basic principles that tell you how to acquire an American Accent? The topic is deep, but the article will provide you a background, which will set you in the right direction.
Well, since you are reading this article I presume that English is your second language, and if so, I can pretty much guess what your English learning background is.
We don't learn the language like babies do
See, babies don't learn English by learning alphabet - it is basically inefficient and even detrimental to the quality of one's Spoken English. If you learn printed English first, like most non-natives do, you will unconsciously adopt very bad habits - those include reading word-by-word, overthinking how to pronounce a certain sound and just speaking English while thinking in Other language.
Then can one fix these problems and learn a new accent? Seems like it is very possible.
First step - learn the phonetics alphabet
Well, it is not that the phonetics alphabet is important by itself, but knowing how to pronounce every sound in American English correctly is surely important. I mean, if you can't pronounce the sounds you will definitely sound foreign.
There are many ways (although all of them are similar in a way) to classify the sounds into groups (which helps learning a bit), but ultimately it all depends on from which point inside the mouth the sound is produced, how to move your jaw, and how to move your lips. It is not that hard as well.
Start thinking in English
I think you've heard people saying this. But how does this advice apply to a better American accent?
Well, have you noticed that American people have their own way of talking? What I mean is that they have their own unique speech melody, or intonation, that they use. Actually, this aspect is very underemphasized in schools of foreign languages.
A person from Japan ,for example, will bring his own intonation into English language , the same as a person from France - which in both cases contribute to the non-nativeness of their speech.
Just compare your own melody to the one American people produce and you will see. Then record yourself with corrected intonation and you will be surprised how better you will sound.
This is contrary to common advice natives give to you , which is "speak slower, with more clarity". You see, this problem stems from the fact that most foreigners try to spell the sentence word-by-word, which is just wrong. It hurts their fluency and doesn't really help much with sounding more clearly.
Instead try to go faster. What will happen is that you will probably start blending sounds between the words together, which is exactly what you need in order to sound more native. Of course there are specific rules to joining the sounds between words together, but for these you should adress other resources that go into the subject in more detail.
In the end I want to say that if you pay attention to these three factors and improve only them - you will sound much more American. In fact, you might even recognise your other mistakes that kept you from having a better Spoken English and fix them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anton runs a website on the topic of How To Improve English Speaking, as well as running a Spoken English Tutorial series, that focuses on giving lessons on acquiring a perfect American Accent.