If there is one aspect of American English that baffles many non-native
speakers, it would be American English pronunciation.
If you have studied the American accent for some length of time, then
you are probably aware of the many reasons why pronunciation can be
such a difficult skill to master if you only learned English as a
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For example, your native tongue might have patterns of intonation,
rhythm, and timing which are vastly different from that used in
American English. Another problem would be that some sounds in American
English might not have any accurate equivalents in your native tongue.
We've compiled these 10 tips designed to aid non-native speakers in
mastering American English pronunciation.
Top 10 tips
1. Learn the different sounds of English
Every language has
its own distinct set of sounds.
It might seem like many sounds exist across different languages, but
the fact of the matter is that even with sounds that seem similar,
there are often subtle differences that can make them sound completely
dissimilar from each other to a native speaking listener's ears.
For example, the short "uh" sound in American English sounds very
different from the "u" syllable in Japanese because of the difference
in how the mouth is used. This is why it is very important for you to
learn all the consonant and vowel sounds in American English.
2. Learn the schwa
The schwa is a unique sound that takes the place of almost all
unstressed vowel sounds in American English.
Simply put, it sounds like a very weak "uh," and it is found in almost
every phrase uttered in American English. The schwa might be a small,
weak sound, but it is very significant because of how often it occurs
in spoken English.
3. Distinguish between the L and the R.
In some languages, the R and the L are interchangeable, or in others,
one or both sounds do not exist altogether.
Unfortunately, both the R and the L sounds are very common in American
English and not knowing how to pronounce either or both sounds properly
can lead to a lot of errors in your pronunciation.
4. Research it
If you are unsure as to how a certain word or sound is pronounced in
American English, do not be ashamed to simply look it up and learn the
Fortunately, if you have access to a steady internet connection, you
can easily look up any word and listen to its correct pronunciation as
spoken by a native speaker.
5. Keep a list
There are probably quite a few words that confuse you as to their
pronunciation. What you need to do is to keep a list and to note down
any words that might confuse you as well as problem words or sounds
that you have difficulty speaking.
6. Watch tutorial videos
Once you have identified which words and sounds give you the most
trouble when you speak in English, try watching some tutorial videos on
There are quite a few free tutorials available at http://www.AccentOnSpeaking.com
and of course, you can enroll in the full American Accent Course at http://www.AmericanAccentCourse.com
You might also want to subscribe to some YouTube channels dedicated to
teaching American English.
7. Record yourself
You will never make any progress with your pronunciation if you do not
know exactly where you stand as far as your speaking skills go. This is
why it is important for you to record your practice sessions in English
so that you can review them later and compare how you pronounce certain
words with how a native speaker would say those very same words.
8. Practice in phrases and sentences
Knowing how to pronounce a single word in English does not mean that
you will be able to reliably pronounce this word correctly when you
have to use it in an actual conversation. This is particularly the case
if you didn't practice using the word in actual phrases and sentences.
This is why you should practice using actual phrases and sentences
instead of individual words. Remember that words were meant to be used
together with other words and not to be spoken on their own.
9. Focus on a single sound for each practice session
Try to take it one step at a time. Practicing one sound intently and
mastering how this sound should be made with your speech organ is
preferable to practicing all the different sounds of American English
at once without ever mastering a single one of them.
There are no shortcuts here. If you want to be able to consistently
pronounce words correctly in American English, then you need to allow
your speech organ to develop the muscle memory for speaking with an
The only way you can achieve this is with constant practice and
repetition. Fortunately, once you learn how to pronounce your words
like an American, it's a skill that you never really forget.
||Sheri Summers is the creator of the American
Accent Course, an online pronunciation program for made
specifically for international students and professionals.
Want to sound great in English? Learn what non-native English speakers
are doing to sound like
native speakers – and how you can do it, too! http://AmericanAccentCourse.com/7-Qualities