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

  • 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 🙃 ), 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’s 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 […]

  • Accents in the World of Siri and Alexa

    We recently worked with a pharmacist who came to us after failing the speaking/listening portion of the TOEFL test 12 times. Passing this test was a necessary step for him in moving up in his career. What he explained to me when he was describing his continued failure was that the test is no longer […]

  • Podcast: “Living in the US When You Don’t Sound White”

    “Standard American English” – what is it and what’s the story behind its origins? And when you don’t speak American English accent well, what are the social and professional consequences? Sharing here a thought-provoking podcast by the Asian American Journalists Association, where questions about assimilation, discrimination, and stereotyping are sensitively explored. One of the reporters dropped […]

  • Of course everyone has an accent!

    Having an “accent” is based on the creation of a norm that is in the center of a spectrum. Saying that someone “has an accent” is based on perspective as viewed from the center of that norm. A norm is pretty much the mid-point of almost anything (from behavior, personality, lifestyle, clothing, to a dinner […]

  • American Accent Training: Our Company Values

    I recently asked some of our accent reduction instructors to contemplate and articulate our company values. Here is what our senior accent instructor and speech pathologist Brittany Leaks had to say (love this!): Our values: GROWTH, OPENNESS, SERVICE GROWTH: We want to help our clients grow: grow their confidence speaking American English, grow their knowledge, […]