Blog

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

  • 3 tricks to get some accent practice in today

    My students sometimes get worried that they’re not practicing enough. “I will confess right now – it was a crazy week.” “I don’t know how to fit this into my schedule.” “I was really bad.” You working on your accent reduction exercises is like me going to the gym. The amount of cognitive dissonance flying around […]

  • Group American Accent Classes

    Perhaps you and your friends share the same native language and have been wanting to work on improving your American accent. Maybe you’re an HR professional with a handful of international hires and would like us to come to you. Sign up for one of our small-group classes! Our group sessions are ideal for friends, coworkers, […]

  • How to lose an accent

    Many people come to us asking “How can I lose my accent?”.  I’ve even had a lovely woman from Brazil come in requesting that we “kill it”. First of all – there’s nothing wrong with having an accent. Accents reflect diversity and cultural richness, and fill our ears with such a variety of lovely music. An […]

  • 25 Nightmare Words

    In the years of working on American English pronunciation with clients from all over the world, we see certain words come up again and again that are simply DIFFICULT to pronounce well. Americans have their own lists of “Most Mispronounced Words” (e.g. “expresso” for “espresso”) but the words here are uniquely problematic for many non-natives. […]

  • T’be or Not T’be: The Connectors

    Sometimes we meet a new client who wants to improve his or her American accent, but who already has very good English pronunciation. During the initial interview, a minute or two might go by where no traces of consonant or vowel substitutions occur, the intonation is fully American in nature, and even the oral posture […]

  • To Russia With Love

    We have clients from every corner of the world; our map has pins from the northernmost part of Russia to the southernmost tip of South America.  And of course the pronunciation issues we hear are as varied as the sounds a human can make. We find variations even within countries, especially the vast area of […]

  • Accent tips for Spanish speakers

    We see many accent modification clients from all the various Spanish-speaking countries, mostly from Spain, Columbia, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. Although each country’s accent has a slightly different flavor, there are many common features in areas of pronunciation, stress/rate/rhythm, intonation, and oral posture. Here are some suggestions to improve your American accent: Slow down. But don’t slow […]

  • Not Going on Holiday

    I often hear non-native American English speakers using the term “going on holiday”.  Let’s take a look at this. “Holiday” is an interesting word and you’ll see it pop up all over the place at this time of the year. However, Americans never say they’re “going on holiday”. Nor do we say “going on holidays” […]

  • Pace Yourself!

    I haven’t written an article in a while. I was in Italy for a couple of weeks and the trip messed with my “pace”.  Slowed down my world in a warm and lovely way. Arrivederci-for-a-while to my usual fast-as-a-New-York-minute productivity. Meglio tardi che mai. Better late than never. This is where espresso/caffeine has its purpose. Speaking […]

  • Scary Pairs

    As far as American English pronunciation goes, there are probably two situations that cause the most problems: Shifting stress in a word or phrase. “My mother lives in the WHITE House”. No, she does not. She lives in the “white HOUSE” down the street. Changing a single sound in a word, thus creating another word with […]

  • Stressed!

    For the American English accent, stress is a good thing. You simply have to know WHERE the stress falls, which is easier said than done.  This applies to not only the word level, but also for phrases and sentences. Some stress patterns are rule-based, some context-based. Some of them we pick up by ear, but knowing […]

  • Oh no the letter O!

    In our accent training classes, when we’re working on  pronunciation of American English phonemes (sounds), we usually start our clients with the TH. A beautiful thing about the letters T and H together is that they sound like a TH almost every time. No interpretation required! This is also true of letters like V, B, M, and a […]