How do you get a southern accent
4 fantastic ways to learn an American accent
Do you have a favorite actor?
Have you ever seen a movie in which someone played an American but you knew they weren't really American? How does he manage to master the American accent so well?
How can you be so convincing too?
There has to be a way.
You may have already discovered that the American accent varies by region. Whether you're in the southern United States, New York City, or even California, locals all speak different ways.
You may think that learning English is hard enough as it is. Now are you supposed to learn all those American accents too?
Relax, it's not as hard as you think!
You have probably already heard the standard American accent in your study materials or films. If you want to speak like an American then don't worry. We'll show you four easy ways to practice and perfect your American accent.
But first, an important distinction:
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The difference between accent and pronunciation
Before we dive into the characteristics of American accents, it is important to understand that the accent and pronunciation are not the same.
With an accent, the rules of language are determined by your location or social class. The accent refers to differences in the accentuation of letters in a word.
Pronunciation is more about speaking the language. It's the way you articulate words for better understanding. Your teacher can help you with the pronunciation.
Differences in accent do not mean that a language is spoken incorrectly. However, incorrect pronunciation can mean that you are speaking a language incorrectly.
What Makes the American Accent Unique?
While over 800 million people speak English, most English speakers are not native speakers. Most English learners want to speak in such a way that the American accent can be heard.
The American accent is actually older than the British accent. The American accent as we know it today was the accent originally spoken by the settlers when they first got there in what is now considered the United States of America.
Around the 19th century, the upper class in Britain was looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the poor. Ultimately, the accent spread across the region (people always wanted to be like the rich). The result is the British accent as we know it today and therefore it sounds different from today's American accent.
The main feature that distinguishes the American accent from the British accent is called the rhetorical language designated. The American accent (with a few exceptions that we'll discuss below) is rhetorical. This means that Americans pronounce the "r" in words like "hard" (har-d). Non-rhetorical speakers leave out the "r" and pronounce the word "hard" like "hah-d".
There are of course some exceptions. Some Americans in the New England region of the United States, such as Boston, Massachusetts, speak in a non-rhetorical manner.
Other features of the American accent are:
- The short "a" sound in words like "man" and "cat"
- Using a relaxed Vowels in words like "lot" (pronounced "laht")
- Missed words. People who speak American English may use abbreviated sentences that suggest words without actually using them. This is much less common in the UK. For example:
Jim: "Are you going to the store on your way home?"
Jan: “I could. What you need? "(I could go to the store. What do you need?)
Regional differences in North America
Different areas in North America have their own accents - there isn't just one simple accent that everyone in North America shares. Here are some characteristics of regional differences that you can find everywhere.
The southern accent
The southern accent is also called "Southern Drawl" or "Country accent" and is usually slower and contains abbreviated words. Southern influences have found their way into the American language across the country.
Typical examples of pronunciation are: git (get) andlemme (let me).
As a good example of American accent differences, consider the following:
Some school children get a rhyme from their teachers when they don't get what they want. In the northern region of the United States, teachers might say, “You get what you get, so don’t be upset. ”In the south the children are more likely to hear this:“ You get what you get, so don’t throw a fit. ”(“ Fit ”is another word for tantrum).
Where to hear a southern accent:
- TV series that are set in the southern states like "True Blood"
- American country singers like Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes and Tim McGraw
The midwestern accent
The Midwestern accent, sometimes called the General American accent, is most commonly heard in American entertainment culture. It is spoken and understood across America.
This accent uses the rhetorical language mentioned above. Even if it is an American accent, its uses vary so much that it is difficult to identify certain features.
Where to Hear a Midwestern or General American Accent:
- National news channels like CNN
The New England accent
The New England accent is also known as the "Boston accent". This regional accent uses non-rhetorical pronunciation. A well-known phrase that demonstrates the accents is: Pahk yuh cah in hah-vud yahd (Park your car in Harvard Yard).
Where to Hear the New England Accent:
The New York City accent
The stereotypical "New York" accent may be dying out, but you can still hear some locals still use it from time to time. This accent also has non-rhetorical elements. They round off the short vowels like a from. For example, “father” becomes “faw-thuh” and “dog” becomes “daw-ug”.
Where to hear the New York City accent:
- Gang films set in New York City like "Gangs of New York" and "Goodfellas"
- The character Joey in the TV series "Friends" (more about this series below)
The Canadian accent
When traveling around Canada, know that Canadians have an accent that is different from the United States. The Canadian accent is very similar to the General American or Midwestern accent. While Canadians typically use the Rhotic language, they have a few different characteristics.
The Canadian accent generally uses the combination caught-cot, which means that words like “caught” are pronounced the same with the “au” sound and cot with the short “o” sound.
Canadians also use diphthongs in some words. An example is “ah-boot” for “about”.
Where to hear the Canadian accent:
- Canadian news outlets such as CTV.
1. Use American accent training videos
Training courses are available from various sources on the Internet to help English learners interested in the American accent. Some sources to get you started are:
Speaking Your Best, Inc .:Speaking Your Best is a free online course taught by a licensed speech pathologist. There are special accent manuals that will help you depending on your native language. You'll learn how to speak just like an American, and get more general advice on why it's important for American English learners to speak slowly:
FluentU: There's nothing like learning an accent directly from native speakers. FluentU brings you authentic American English videos like YouTube clips, movie trailers, and more that have been converted into language learning experiences.
Each video has interactive captions that you can use to learn any word. Click on a word and you'll hear it clearly pronounced with an American accent - you'll also get a definition and visual learning aids for the word. Not only does this mean you can perfect your accent, but you can also build up your vocabulary. And all while listening to English the way the locals use it!
If you want to achieve this goal even faster, you can use FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, even better, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store.
Let's talk: This YouTube channel uploads new videos every other day. The focus is on helping English learners speak with a neutral accent. These videos provide helpful tips and fun facts to help you learn accents easily. In addition to the accent help, you can also learn vocabulary and receive English grammar tips.
Pronunciation Pro: Pronunciation Pro is run by Accent Reduction Specialist Annie Ruden. Their accent reduction program costs something, but they also provide free YouTube videos for free. There you will find a variety of playlists with pronunciation tips for beginners and advanced learners. She offers specific lessons in American pronunciation and rhythm.
If you are interested in her course, she also provides videos with more information.
Amy Walker's How to Do an American Accent series: Amy Walker may not be an English teacher, but her series is fun and useful for English learners. Amy Walker is an actress. The methods she teaches are the same ones that actors use to learn their convincing accents that you see on television or in movies.
Her series on how to do an American accent includes lessons, exercises, and even demonstrations of various American accents.
2. Watch American TV series
Many English learners have used American television series to teach themselves English. In the American series, a number of American accents are of paramount importance, although you'll usually hear something like the Midwestern or General American accent.
The suggestions below are useful for English learners as they are popular and use everyday language. You can find these series on DVD or online. You can even access some episodes on YouTube.
You can find more suggestions here.
"The Simpsons":The Simpsons is an American classic that has aired since 1989. The episodes have spread around the world, and the characters are so popular that they introduced new expressions into American culture. Every American you meet is familiar with The Simpsons. Some English learning programs even incorporate "The Simpsons" into their lessons.
Note that The Simpsons in general uses a lot of current and cultural references, so it may be better for advanced users.
"Friends": "Friends" was (and remains) one of the most popular sitcoms in the US. It is set in New York City and the characters come from different backgrounds and language patterns. Many of the topics in the program are understandable for many.
You can watch episodes over and over to hear Americans talking to and reacting to one another.
"Full House":This is another sitcom that hits all over the world. The characters range from children to adults. Many of the stories appeal to the whole family. Full House is so popular that some learned English by watching it!
Sitcoms like “Friends” and “Full House” work well for English learners because they are short and incorporate everyday problems into the plot. They also use a lot of body language to help you understand what is happening, even if you may not be able to follow the dialogue at first.
3. Watch American news channels
American news channels will help you grasp the American accent. Try watching national news programs like the ones listed below. National news anchors tend to have an American accent.
If you know you are traveling to an area with a strong local accent, such as the south or west, look for videos from local news networks in those areas. You may hear localized accents.
4. Get help from an accent trainer
Tutors are always the best resource as they can help you with your specific pronunciation needs. The following tutors or language services specialize in the American accent.
American Accent Course: The American Accent Course is an online program that you can access whenever it is best for you. You will receive listening exercises and lessons in rhythm and pronunciation. You can take a quiz about your progress and live tutors will help you with difficulties and provide feedback.
Cambly: Cambly is a course that you can use online or on your mobile device. It offers a free trial option to find out if it's the right course for you. Cambly allows you to practice conversation in English with a native speaker for live feedback on your accent.
Rachel’s English: Rachel is an English teacher focused on helping learners perfect their American accent. While they have a lot of paid material available, their website also has over 400 free videos to get you started.
The best way to learn the American accent is to listen and practice. Record your voice and compare it to native speakers you hear in American conversation. Talk to your American friends, tutors, or teachers.
Remember, don't try to force anything. Locals can hear this. Some might even be offended thinking you are making fun of them. Your accent should sound natural.
Keep practicing, and you'll be speaking like a local American in no time.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.
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