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Accent

Stop getting stuck: 5 tips to keep the conversation flowing

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Stop getting stuck: 5 tips to keep the conversation flowing

Don’t you hate getting confused looks when speaking English? Then eventually, your listener asks you to repeat what you said… how frustrating is that? This can feel embarrassing, especially if English is not your first language. Are you mispronouncing the word or speaking too fast? It’s hard to know without a detailed analysis of your speech. Rather than giving up, or constantly repeating the same word, use these steps to take control of the conversation again.

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Top 20 English Words with Disappearing Syllables

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Top 20 English Words with Disappearing Syllables

Time is money in America. So when Americans say words with three or more syllables, it’s sometimes easier to delete a weak syllable (like a schwa vowel /ə/) in order to say it faster and more efficiently. It’s as if a syllable disappears. This helps the word sound more fluent and smooth when used in a sentence.

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Brew On This: Linguistic Melodies of American English & French

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Brew On This: Linguistic Melodies of American English & French

Have you ever noticed the rise and fall of a person’s voice in conversation? That heightened “punch” as someone tells a story, makes a statement, or asks a question? This is intonation, or the vocal “highs” and “lows” that make the melody of a language. Listeners perceive this as pitch, which is created from the stretching or shortening of our vibrating vocal cords. 

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Listening is the Key

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Listening is the Key

accentsavvy-american-english-pronunciation

Is it easy to learn an accent?  No, definitely not. Otherwise, everyone would sound the same. It takes a lot of motivation and determination to overcome the natural pronunciation patterns hard-wired in your brain, ear, and tongue.

Many of my clients have been living in the United States for years, and yet, they still have difficulties being understood. A lot of this comes down to listening. If you are not discriminating the American sounds correctly, you will not be able to produce it correctly. Therefore, the first step to improving pronunciation is to simply listen. Pick a sound that you often say incorrectly. Study the differences between how you produce that sound, and how the sound is made by native speakers. Listen to the contrasts between them. 

For example, many languages do not have the English 'TH' sounds. Due to this, many speakers use a /d/, /z/, or /s/ sound in place of the 'TH' sounds. Doing so leads to an accent because you are deviating from the correct way to produce the 'TH' sound. Listen to the difference between saying a /d/ on 'the' and saying it correctly. Are you taking 'duh' time or 'the' time to listen?

Listening to the sound differences is the first step to learning an accent. Without that, you will not become aware, leaving you with your native accent when you speak English. You also must get comfortable listening to yourself. If you don't like how you sound, and you don't want to listen to yourself, how will you improve your speech when others hear you talk? 

Changing your accent takes time and practice. It will not happen overnight. But if you are motivated to learn and listen to yourself, it's an enlightening experience which will only benefit your speaking skills, and hopefully some other aspects of your life. 

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Why Foreigners Sing in American Accents

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Why Foreigners Sing in American Accents

I often find myself wondering, why is the American accent so often used by foreign singers? We often hear British singers like Adele, Bono, and Eric Clapton, or Australian singers like Keith Urban and Iggy Azalea, Americanizing their songs. Is it simply to gain larger audiences and sell albums?

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The Best Oscar Nominated Accents

In honor of Oscar night, let's looks at the actors who spent much time and effort perfecting their learned accents to fit their Oscar-nominated roles.  Often times actors work with dialect coaches to learn their character's new voice. Dialect coaches are named as such because they not only work on pronunciation and prosody (accent), but they also target the grammar and vocabulary a character would use.

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The Most Pinterest-Worthy Celebrity Quotes about Accents

Getting work as an actor, public figure, or entertainer is hard enough given the normal challenges one must overcome. Add to this an unconventional accent, and these celebrities show they have the determination it takes to succeed in Hollywood. Here we've put together a Pinterest-worthy montage of various celebrities discussing their accents in relation to their work. These stars prove we can embrace our individual uniquenesses while also conquering our dreams. Enjoy! 

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Take One Minute to Listen to an Accent Tour of the British Isles

I love listening to different dialects and this video is a great example about how accents differ depending on our origins. Although, the U.K. has more varying English dialects than the United States, it's only a third of the size of Texas! It's believed to be like this because U.K. communities were more isolated before the phone was invented in the 1930's, therefore there was less outside influence on each dialect. And similar to the general American accent that broadcasters use in the states, the U.K. has a parallel accent called Received Pronunciation (R.P.) that you will hear from U.K. broadcasters. So take a short listen to this video and tell me which is your favorite British Isles accent?

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Is There One Way to Speak American?

When you’re in the South, don’t call the cops if you hear someone say, “Looks like the devil’s beating his wife.”  Instead, look for a rainbow!  Much like how Southerners coin a sun shower, in the U.S. I find it intriguing how many different word and pronunciations are used for the same thing...(cont.)

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When Your Accent Embarrasses You

The beginning of the year is a time for renewal, celebration, and time to watch our favorite celebs walk the red carpet to vie for gold-enameled dust collectors...I mean awards!  One foreign director caught my attention this season when he won the Golden Globe Best Director Award for the film "Gravity". Alfonso Cuarón knew how to give a relatable and humorous acceptance speech when he poked fun at his heavy accent. “Because of my thick accent, they ended up doing what they thought I said, not what I really said"....(cont.)

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