Articles about speaking English, American accent, and whatever else seems relevant at the moment

  • The one dead giveaway that your first language wasn’t English

    After almost 20 years in the accent business, my favorite challenge is meeting a new client who wants accent reduction training but does not sound like a non-native speaker. In these cases, I have to listen for a couple minutes to get past what seems like a bona fide “American” accent. I think the prize […]

  • How to look good signing off Zoom

    Greetings from NYC in this wild and challenging time! I feel fortunate to have myself and AccentsOff featured as a “Best E-Learning Company” in DataBird Business Journal. My team of instructors and I are keeping busy both on (and off) the webcam: accent coaching sessions, wedding plans, babies being born! We’re enjoying seeing our students […]

  • Accent, Identity, and my American DNA

    1. In search of my American DNA There are many good reasons to hire an accent coach. If your job description includes Communication in any capacity (and really, which job doesn‚Äôt?), mastering your accent will definitely make you a better communicator. Accent work will improve your delivery, boost your confidence and shorten the distance between […]

  • Are you confused or confusing?

    If you are a foreign-born English speaker with grammar challenges, read on. This particular issue comes up with some of our accent reduction students. In this picture, who is “boring” and who is “bored”? During a conversation with an American accent client, if I hear “I was so exciting…”, I immediately get suspicious, realizing they […]

  • The Fake Microphone Strategy

    An accent, whether foreign or regional, can be described as a package of substitutions. Non-native speakers who have an accent substitute features of their original language’s accent for features of their secondary language. An accent can be described by variations in pronunciation, intonation and rhythm patterns, resonance, “vibe”, and general vocal tract physicality. Add to […]

  • Tipping in America: A Scientific Study by Tim Urban

    Summer is never easy – as the non-stop parties and sunny picnics and fun outdoor events keep us from getting any decent work done. So… in honor of AccentsOff’s 8th year anniversary (yet another reason to throw a party ūüôÉ ), we are NOT writing an August blog post. Instead – I want to share […]

  • Introduction to American Culture, Part 2

    In part 1 of our blog on American Culture we discussed the American propensity to work hard, skip lunch, and devote oneself to the office.¬† In some cultures this devotion is imposed from the top down; from the boss to the worker.¬† In American culture however, it‚Äôs often a choice made by the worker based […]

  • Accent, Voice, SOUND

    For all you devotees of speech, accent, and voice out there, please enjoy this guest blog post written by the brilliant Tim Urban of the website Wait But Why. It’s all about SOUND and I learned a lot from reading it. Enjoy and share! Everything You Should Know About Sound

  • Introduction to American Culture, Part 1

    Many of our accent reduction students are interested not only in perfecting their pronunciation but also want to better understand the American psyche.¬† The American English language reveals the American personality.¬† Like Americans themselves, our language is a world where exceptions are the rules, where consistent pronunciation of vowels and consonants is a moving target, […]

  • Bugz Have A Voise: The S-Z Mess!

    Why do so many letter S’s in the American English accent sound like Z’s? Take: “poison” (POY-zin), “is” (izz), “bugs” (bugz). It’s frustrating for non-English speakers. I had a Columbian client once who said “My sister has a great American accent and she’s always going Z-Z-Z-Z. Now I know why!” Fortunately, there are a few […]

  • How to get out of Phone Call Hell

    I recently was on a phone call with a prospective new client. I spent a solid 10 to 15 minutes of that call trying to get his email address. He had an unusually heavy accent and his email address was long and complicated. In the end, I gave him mine, and we were finally able […]

  • Flash Strategies for Indian-Accented Speakers

    Working with students from every corner of the world, I have come to recognize the various linguistic challenges my students face depending on their language backgrounds.¬†For each accent, there are dozens of things to talk about, from pronunciation of individual sounds, to oral posture, to intonation and rhythm, etc; but a few salient features for […]