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:
But don’t slow down EVERYWHERE. Just on the big, important words. Which words are important?
Long words and numbers. Nouns (Native Spanish speakers often prefer verbs). The last word in a sentence that adds new information is almost always stressed. “I’m going to visit my BROTHER on his BIRTHDAY”.
You can continue speeding through all the “little” words (“can”, “the”, “of”, etc.). Americans say these connecting words so quickly that the vowel practically disappears. “Can”, for example, sounds like a light little “k/n” and leads quickly to the stressed word that follows. Practice: “I k/n GO”. “K/n you BELIEVE it?”
A slight lifting of the pitch while slowing down a bit should be enough to make yourself understood clearly. In slow motion, a rise in pitch sounds like a gentle jump up followed by a gliding back down.
Avoid “flipping up” at ends of phrases and sentences. Flipping up the pitch is different from the way we raise our pitch to stress words. American English cadences (at ends of sentences) go DOWN. You might sound unsure of yourself if your statements are sounding like questions.
Get your pronunciation tuned up. The B vs. the V. The J vs. the Y. And the /ae/ as in “iPad”…it’s not an “iPod”any more.
TAKE A CLASS! If you have a Spanish-speaking accent background and would like to work on improving your American accent, consider our upcoming mini-group class. It starts on Monday, January 9th and there is a maximum of 3 students in the class. For more information, read here. ¡Hasta luego!