Accent Reduction Techniques- Part 1

If you find that Americans have trouble understanding you when you speak, you are not alone!

Here are three accent reduction techniques that you must learn if you want to American English speakers to understand you.

Accent Reduction Technique 1-Learn to Use Syllable Stress

In English words with two or more syllables, one syllable always receives strong stress or emphasis. Here is a common syllable stress pattern: 90% of two syllable English nouns are stressed on the first syllable. That means that you should pronounce the words TEA-cher and STU-dent with strong emphasis on the first syllable. The second syllable is reduced.

You must learn English syllable stress rules and patterns if you want to improve your American English pronunciation. That is because Americans listen for syllable stress in order to identify words and meaning.

Accent Reduction Strategy 2-Learn to Lengthen the Vowel Sounds in Stressed Syllables

The vowels in stressed syllables take on a special quality in spoken English. These vowels must be lengthened and pronounced with a slightly higher pitch in order to make words easily comprehensible to American listeners.

Lengthening vowel sounds in stressed syllables is vital to the rhythm of spoken English so you must do this if you want to reduce your accent. For example, when you say the word TEA-cher you need to lengthen the EA and say it with a slightly higher pitch.

Accent Reduction Strategy 3-Learn to Use the “schwa” Vowel Sound in Reduced Syllables

In American English the vowels in reduced syllables are NOT pronounced long and clear. Instead these vowels have the “schwa” sound. The schwa is a low pitched “uh” sound. For example, when you say the word STU-dent the e in the second (or reduced) syllable sounds like “uh” and the word sounds like STU-duhnt.

The schwa is sound is the most frequent sound in spoken English but many learners are unaware of it. Learning to use the schwa sound for vowels in reduced syllables is one of the best ways to improve your accent.

I teach you all of these accent reduction techniques in my Accent Reduction Class.

In my course, I teach you to speak American English clearly and understandably using the techniques that I describe here. Your listening comprehension will improve and you will enjoy speaking English with American friends and colleagues!