As you might already be well-aware of, learning the American Accent is not always easy. The reason for this is that accent itself was not designed to be learned separately from the language on which it is based. The accent of a spoken language should always go hand-in-hand with the language itself and the two should never be separated. This is why the most ideal way of learning the American Accent, which is also true of any other accent, is to learn them at the same time. This is the way Americans learn to speak. From their early years – from 1-4 years old, they are constantly exposed to the unique sounds of the English language and thus, they acquire the American Accent naturally through immersion. In fact, they often learn the sounds of the English language even before they learn the actual words and certainly, way before they learn grammar and sentence structure. Unfortunately, if you did not grow up in an English-speaking country and you only learned English either as an adult or as a teenager in school, chances are that you did not have the benefit of learning the American Accent alongside your over-all English skills. Most English teachers simply do not focus enough on the American Accent or even “sounding good” in English. What many English instructors fail to realize is that having a good accent also brings with it several benefits – some of which will be discussed in this article along with some important reminders about the American Accent.
With Good Accent Comes Better Understanding
Better comprehension is a very underrated aspect of accent, but one that deserves more attention: the fact of the matter is that along with the ability to use the American Accent effectively also comes better over-all understanding of the English language. This is because there are certain quirks or nuances to the English language which can only be understood if you are familiar with the American Accent. For example, it’s often hard to tell when someone is being sarcastic unless you understand the intonation that is used for sarcasm in the American Accent. Ordinary, everyday English speech is often filled with hidden meanings and intentional innuendos, which you would only be able to understand if your grasp of the American Accent is at least as good as the average native speaker.
Don’t Forget About The Schwa
The schwa is an almost silent, unstressed syllable that is present in many words in the English language. In American English, the schwa takes the place of the unstressed vowel in a word. For example, in the word chocolate, the second “o” sound is actually replaced by the schwa – which is almost silent so that the word is effectively pronounced more like “chok-uh-lit” rather than how it is actually spelled. What you need to remember about the schwa as far as American English is concerned is that it can never take the place of a stressed vowel sound.
Link The Words, But Don’t Forget To Pause
When most English Language Learners first learn about how the words in the English language should be linked together when speaking in the American Accent, they often get too caught up and fascinated by this concept that they forget to pause on occasion. While it is important to learn how to link your words together when using the American Accent so that your speech sounds smooth and fluent, you should also learn how to use pauses effectively. You should remember that the English language is spoken in chunks or units of sound. There should be some pauses in between your sentences for purposes of clarity and preventing confusion.
Use Intonation Patterns Effectively
Intonation patterns can dramatically alter the meaning of the spoken word. This is why intonation and timing are such important elements of the American Accent. Depending on where you place the stress in a sentence, you could be unknowingly changing the meaning of what you are saying in the ears of a native speaker. On the other hand, if you think that the safest way to get your message across is to simply forego the use of intonation patterns altogether, not only will your speech sound choppy and robotic, but the person or persons whom you are talking to might get the wrong idea and think that you are being cold or even rude to them.
Before You Can Speak, You Need To Listen
No, this isn’t a lesson on good manners, although you really should allow other people to finish speaking and not interrupt them while they are still talking. As far as learning the American Accent is concerned however, you need to be able to listen and to identify exactly what is an American Accent before you will be able to speak it. After all, no one can be expected to replicate an accent that they can’t even recognize themselves.