Blog

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

  • 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 […]

  • To Skype or not to Skype

    Are accent reduction classes online as good as in-person training? We get asked this question all the time. THE DOWNSIDE: You won’t get to hang out in our new office with the nice view. You’ll have to print out your materials yourself. But we may get to meet your cat… Seriously, accent training over Skype […]

  • Halloween Trivia and Tips

    Halloween greetings! Here is some basic vocabulary and Halloween trivia  you absolutely need to know for all your pagan partying this weekend.   ‘Jack o’ lantern’ => in this country you’ll see them made from pumpkins. Jack o’ lanterns are believed to have originated in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands during the 19th century. They were […]

  • You Can or You Can’t?

    Has this ever happened to you? You’re telling someone that you’re able to do something, for example “I can see you tonight”. And then the person replies “You CAN or you CAN’T?”. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN??? In American English, the helping (auxilliary) word “can” should not rhyme with “man”.   It should sound more like a very […]

  • How to Make Your American Accent Sound Authentic

    I just got back from a long tennis lesson, where my coach was drilling the “posture of the serve”. The serve in tennis is an incredibly complex sequence of timed movements, and players work on perfecting it for years. The posture Joe was talking about has to do with rotation, an extreme upper body and hip twisting […]

  • Don’t Make a Sound

    It’s been a while since there’s been an AccentsOff blog post. It’s because the AccentsOff world got kind of chaotic with a new website launch on top of a rough, freezing NYC winter that somehow made it hard for the fingers to type.  But it’s spring now and body parts are thawed. And the brain works little. Wait, no, […]

  • American Accent On!

    “What sets worlds in motion is the interplay of differences, their attractions and repulsions. Life is plurality, death is uniformity. By suppressing differences and peculiarities, by eliminating different civilizations and cultures, progress weakens life and favors death”. – Octavio Paz, Mexican poet, writer and diplomat; 1914-1998 I love this quote. So why would I start […]

  • Remembering Sam Chwat

    I worked with Sam Chwat at New York Speech Improvement (later known as the Sam Chwat Speech Center) for about six years. Sam unexpectedly passed away in March 2011 and when his business closed shortly thereafter, I opened AccentsOff Speech and Voice Improvement. How to describe Sam Chwat? He was warm, well-read and erudite, charismatic, […]

  • IPA: A Roadmap for Accent Reduction

    International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, is a universal roadmap of the speech sounds of all languages. Unlike alphabet letters, the symbols (or phonemes) of IPA are unique representations of speech sounds used in all languages, taking the guesswork out of pronouncing irregularly spelled words (a notorious feature of American English). For example, the word “been” […]