American English Pronunciation

Top 10 Tips

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 second language.

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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 correct pronunciation.

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 these words/sounds.

You can enroll in the full American Accent Course at

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.

10. Practice

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 American pronunciation.

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 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!

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