If you have recently relocated to the United States or plan to stay here for a long time, learning an American accent may come with its unique challenges. In general, it’s easier to learn other accents because they are less restricted by the rules of English grammar and spelling.
Carpe diem! Whether you are studying at a language school, living on your own, or taking private lessons with a tutor, you will need some tips and resources to succeed. In this article, we will share our top picks on how you can learn an American accent.
1. Get Help from an Accent Tutor
If you want to learn how well you are doing, you can consult an accent tutor. An accent tutor will listen to your accent and tell you how to improve. Tutors are great resources because they can always help you with your specific needs. You can get an online English tutor from italki to help you improve your English speaking skills while you learn English online.
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italki is one of the most extensive language learning tools, with over 5 million students from 100+ countries worldwide. italki has a vault of resources and near-native as well as native-American English teachers to help you on your journey to mastering the language. You can find a variety of teachers who use a variety of methods to help you.
italki is also one of the most flexible sites with trial lessons that let you dip your toes and try out the American accent lessons before making any commitments. To master the American English accent, make use of these features:
- Flexible schedule
- Great free community features
- Affordable prices
- A considerable number of an online English tutor
2. Keep Reading Books and Articles in Your Target Language
Although it may seem that you can learn an accent by listening to people talk, reading books and articles in your target language will go a long way. If you have a library card, use it! You can also get audiobooks or DVDs of shows in your target language and listen to them on your commute to work or while studying.
If you don’t have access to these resources, you may download American English accent apps such as Audiobooks.com, Overdrive, or Audible.com. Reading books and articles in your target language will help you better understand American pronunciation and the use of vocabulary.
Reading an American English accent book will also expand your vocabulary and make you more familiar with the sound of words. Reading in your target language may also help you stay fluent in your native language, especially if you are a native speaker and want to learn another language.
3. Understand the History of the American Accent
You may have noticed that the accent of some American celebrities has changed over the years. To understand the history of the American accent, it’s essential to know a little about the history of English in the United States. English was brought to the United States in the 1600s by settlers. At that time, British pronunciation was the standard pronunciation.
However, after a few decades, the American English accents began to take hold. In the mid-1900s, the American standard English accent in the United States began to sound different from the British accent. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word “American” was first used by English settlers in the United States. Therefore, the pronunciation then was not the same as the word’s pronunciation in Britain.
4. Learn the Unique Features of American English
American English is different from British English in many ways. If you have an English conversation American accent, here are a few unique features of American English that you can learn to help you sound more natural.
- American English has a variety of pronunciations for words, depending on the region of the United States. In the southern United States, for instance, the “th” sound is replaced with an “s” sound. In the Midwest, the “th” sound is replaced with a “z” sound. In the northern United States, the “th” sound is replaced with an “f” sound. It’s important to remember that these pronunciations are regional and not something standard in the entire United States.
- American English also has many different spellings of words. For instance, the “o” sound in words like “stop” and “not” is spelled with an “a” sound in some words and a “u” sound in other words.
- There are also many pronunciations of common words, depending on region and even person. For instance, the “i” sound in words like “run” and “ring” is pronounced differently in different regions.
- Words are also often changed to make them easier to say or more acceptable in society. For instance, “retarded” is often changed to “retrievable.” This is done because it’s sometimes offensive to use the word “retarded” in certain situations.
Knowing these features of American English will help you sound less awkward and more natural when speaking. It will also help you understand American culture.
5. Learn to Pronounce the Letter R
The American accent is rhotic primarily, meaning that the received pronunciation accent differs from the General American accent. In the received accent, you pronounce the letter r if placed before a vowel. In the American accent, however, the letter r is always pronounced.
It is typical for American and British English speakers to pronounce their words differently:
- car (UK) / car (US)
- enforce (UK) / enforce (US)
While American English speakers pronounce the sound r at the end of a word, British English speakers do not. For instance:
Unlike Spanish and languages that use a trill when pronouncing the sound ‘r,’ the American English accent doesn’t. It might take some time, but a little practice will go a long way.
6. Learn to Pronounce Your Ts and Ds Right
There are many variations of how English speakers pronounce the letter “t” and “d” in American English. What you should note about the letter ‘t’ is its unique sound when placed between two vowel sounds. The sound resembles that of a ‘d’ and an ‘r.’
For example, water (UK) is pronounced “wader” in the US.
7. Be Careful of the Sound /j/
The /j/ sound also lets you off a person’s accent. It is typical to hear the sound pronounced as ge, dge, and j—for example, Gentle, jump, and judge.
The letter “j” does not exist in the English alphabet, which means it is unfamiliar to many English speakers. You may notice that some people in your new community pronounce this letter as “y.” It would be best if you were careful not to do this yourself.
8. Learn Which Words to Use to Sound Natural
If you want to sound more natural, you should learn to use more words from your native language. American English has many words from other languages, so it’s easier to use words from your native language in your sentences.
For example, you can use words like “dictionary,” “computer,” and “van” from your native language when you use them in American English. When you use these words in American English, you will sound more natural.
9. Use American Accent Training Videos
If you want to learn how to sound more naturally, you can try an American English accent training app. These videos will help you practice the American accent and make you sound more natural when you speak.
You can practice accent reduction by watching videos and listening to audio pronunciations. This will help you get accustomed to speaking with a standard accent and improve your English speaking skills. If you want to sound more natural, try to speak with a standard accent instead of a non-standard accent.
10. Watch American TV Shows
If you want to learn how to sound more naturally, you can watch American TV shows. These shows are typically made for American audiences, so they are a good source for learning about American culture and language.
Try watching shows that are set in your new city or that take place in your new state. This will help you learn more about your new city and state and will help you feel more connected to your new community. Try using the shadowing technique while you watch these TV shows.
Watch shows such as The Simpsons, Fuller House, or subject-specific shows such as Grey’s Anatomy if you are into medicine or How to Get Away with Murder if you are law inclined.
Still, wondering how to have an American accent in English? We hope not! Remember to immerse yourself in the learning process and experience by watching American tv shows, reading books, using American English accent training videos, and getting an English tutor on italki to help you master the accent.