How Long Will It Take To Reduce My Accent?

Most people born outside of the United States will never sound like a native born American English speaker, but you can make changes to your current speech that will enable Americans to understand you.

Everyone is capable of learning new sounds and patterns that will make their speech more comprehensible.

Using these new sounds patterns will make speaking English much more enjoyable for you and for your listeners!

How long it takes to improve your accent depends on a few variables. These include:

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Improve Your American Accent

Do you speak English with a foreign accent? Do you find that native English speakers find it difficult to understand you?

Even though your English grammar and writing are excellent, your accent may be preventing you from communicating in your workplace, getting a promotion or even making new friends.
The most effective way reduce your accent and improve the way you speak American English is to work with an accent reduction coach.
That’s because accent coaching is very personal. The lessons are customized to meet your specific needs and goals.

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The Schwa Sound in American English

In order to reduce your accent effectively, it is absolutely critical that you learn to use the schwa vowel sound. In this article I will explain what the schwa sound is and why using the schwa will improve your accent.

What is the schwa sound?….

The schwa sound is the most common vowel sound in North American English. The schwa sounds like “uh”. It is pronounced with the mouth and tongue in a very relaxed position.

The schwa sound can be represented by any vowel. The IPA symbol for schwa is /ə/.

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American English Intonation Patterns

Perhaps you have heard people say that intonation creates the music of spoken American English. That’s because English speakers use different types of intonation or pitch patterns in sentences and phrases. These intonation patterns, which are not visible in the written language, are extremely important because they convey meaning. If you are not aware of how Americans use these pitch or intonation patterns you could risk confusing or offending your listeners.

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Accent Reduction for Chinese Speakers

One accent reduction technique that Chinese speakers can use to improve their American English pronunciation is to use linking.

American English speakers link or join words toegether so that they are easy to say and flow together smoothly. It often sounds like people are saying one long word since they don’t leave spaces between words.

Chinese speakers don’t usually use linking when they speak English. This makes their speech sound choppy and difficult to understand.

Here are 2 common types of linking that we use in spoken American English.

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Sentence Stress & Focus Words in American English

When Americans talk they stress the CONTENT and FOCUS words in a sentence or phrase because these words are integral to the meaning of the sentence. Americans reduce the function words in a sentence because these words are not key to meaning.
In spoken American English each sentence or phrase contains:
A Focus word-the most important word
Content words-very important for meaning
Function words-not important for meaning

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Accent Reduction Techniques- Part 1

Do you find that Americans have trouble understanding you when you speak? Do you have to work extra hard to communicate with American friends and colleagues? You are not alone!

Here are three strategies you must learn if you want to reduce your accent so that others can understand you.

Accent Reduction Strategy 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.

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How to Pronounce the Past Tense “ed”

Many Spanish and Chinese speakers do not pronounce word final sounds correctly. This creates an accent.

When they are speaking English, many Spanish and Chinese speakers fail to pronounce word final sounds correctly. If you do this, it contributes significantly to your accent.

One problem that arises are the sounds of the past tense “ed”.

In American English the past tense “ed” has three different sounds.

These sounds are: /d/ as in the word “loved”, /ed/ as in the word “wanted” and /t/ as in the word “stopped”.

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Accent Reduction for Indians, Part 1

Many Indian speakers who work with North Americans find that their colleagues and coworkers have difficulty understanding their spoken English.

This can be very frustrating if you have been speaking English since your youth!

If this sounds familiar you may find yourself wondering, “Why is my spoken English so difficult for American English speakers to understand?” One BIG reason is that most Indian English speakers never learned to use American English syllable stress.

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Accent Reduction for Indians, Part 2

As I wrote in Accent Reduction for Indians, Part 1, one of the most significant features of spoken American English is its use of syllable stress. Syllable stress patterns create a speech rhythm that American listeners use to identify words and make meaning.

When speakers stress each syllable equally, or consistently stress the first syllable, it makes their words sound very “accented” to American listeners and creates speech patterns that extremely difficult for us to understand!

Here is another story that illustrates the importance of using the correct syllable stress.

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