How to Improve American English Spoken by Hispanics

Have you ever wondered where accents come from? And why people from another culture can spend so long studying English and still have a hard time being understood? In this post, I’m going to focus on the Spanish language and how to improve American English spoken by Hispanics.

Every language has its own set of pronunciation rules, and most people learn those rules subconsciously just by hearing other people speak the language all of the time. As you were growing up, you learned the rules to your native language, Spanish, without even realizing it.

When we learn a new language, we try to apply those same pronunciation rules to the second language, often without even being aware that we are doing it. But, since every language has a different set of rules, this often leads to a communication breakdown. And the misuse of these rules is what causes you to speak with an accent.

So, if you grew up speaking Spanish but later learned to speak English, you may find that other English speakers have a hard time understanding you. For example, if you need a ride to work, you might call a taxi. Because Spanish speakers often substitute p for b, here is what could happen:

“I need a cap to go to work.”

“What kind of hat do you need?”

“No, no, a cap to ride in to get to work.”

“Oh, you mean a cab, like a taxi.”

You may know English very well, but it can be frustrating when people still misunderstand you. You can know thousands of English words, apply the grammar rules, and even understand the jokes and expressions, but if you don’t know the subtle rules of sound pronunciation, people will not understand what you are saying.

While each person’s speech is unique, there are some common pronunciation differences for many Hispanic speakers. Here are some sounds that are commonly mispronounced by Hispanic speakers of English and tips for helping you improve your spoken English:

1. saying an S sound instead of a Z sound

Many Hispanic speakers use an s sound for a z sound. S and Z use the exact same tongue and mouth shape; the difference is in the voicing. The S sound is produced without the voice, but the Z sound requires the voice. To feel the difference, put your hand on your throat and try saying S-s-s-s. You should not feel anything. Now try saying Z-z-z-z. You should feel a vibration in your throat. Practice saying words like Sue and zoo.

2. saying a K sound instead of a G sound

This is a very similar issue to the one above. K and G sound are both produced in the back of the throat, but the K is unvoiced and the G is voiced. Try saying K-k-k and then G-g-g-g. You should feel the tickle or vibration on your throat when you say the G sound. Practice saying coat and goat.

3. saying a P sound instead of a B sound

Once again, this is a difference in voicing. P and B are both made by pushing the lips together and releasing them. P is made without using the voice while B uses the voice. It is important to hear the difference because one letter sound can change the whole meaning of the sentence, as in the example above with cap and cab.

4. Saying a B sound for a V sound.

The V sound is made by placing the top teeth on the lower lip, turning on the voice, and blowing. If you put both lips together and blow, you get a B sound instead of the V. Practice with words like very and berry.

5. Saying an F sound for a V sound.

If you put the top teeth on the lower lip and blow without turning on the voice, you will make an F sound. To make the V sound, you need to turn on your voice. Practice by saying fine and vine.

These are a few of the most common sounds that Hispanic speakers of English often mispronounce. Practicing these sounds will help improve the American English spoken by you and your friends.

If you want more personalized help to improve your spoken English, please take my free accent screening at www.losemyaccent.com.

I Want to Speak With an American Accent: Why Hire an Accent Reduction Specialist When I Can Buy a CD-ROM?

If you’re a non-native speaker of English and struggle to be understood, you’ve probably thought to yourself, ” What can I do to help lose my accent?” You may have even searched the internet and seen some inexpensive prepackaged kits with CD-ROMs designed to help you speak with an American accent just by listening to their recordings and practicing.

Perhaps you also found some accent reduction specialists offering to work with you individually or in a small group but the cost was higher. Which one is better, you may wonder. And is it worth the cost to hire a speech coach to help you speak like an American?

Great question! It goes back to the old adage that says “you get what you pay for.” Many of those kits have some valuable information in them, and you may find them helpful. However, they are not targeted to a particular individual, so you may find yourself practicing sounds that don’t really affect your speech.

For example, there are 51 sounds in the English language, but most non-native speakers only have 10-15 sounds affecting their speech. How will you know which ones you need to work on? A qualified accent reduction specialist should provide you with a customized speech analysis and a personalized plan that addresses only the sounds that you need to speak with an American accent.

Also, most of those kits cannot provide personal, objective feedback to be sure you are pronouncing the sounds correctly. If you can figure it out on your own, that’s great!

But, if you would like the guidance of a highly trained professional, the assurance of knowing that you are producing the sounds correctly, and the support of having others alongside you as you work toward your goals, then an accent reduction class will be a great investment. If you prefer to work with a professional privately, most accent reduction specialists offer individual lessons, some will come to your home or office, and a few even offer classes over the internet. Sometimes, a company will pay for the training when an employee’s job performance is affected by their accent.

When you are ready to hire someone to help you with your American accent, look for a specialist with a speech pathology background, as speech pathologists have Master’s level specialized training in how the mouth works to produce sounds and have experience in how to teach those sounds to others.

Once you find an accent reduction specialist and begin to practice, you will quickly see the benefits of having a personal speech trainer; you will speak with more of an American accent, and others will see the new and improved you!

Before you leave, download my FREE report How to Speak English Like an American: 6 Steps You Can Take Today! just by visiting my website:

Are Accent Reduction Classes Right for Me?

Have you ever been misunderstood when you thought you had been very clear?

Do people ever ask you to repeat yourself because they don’t understand what you said?

Are you concerned that you may miss a job opportunity or promotion because of your accent?

If you have ever experienced any of these things, you may have wondered if there were any way to make yourself more easily understood without losing your regional dialect or native accent.

The great news is that you can have it all!

Are Accent Reduction Classes Right for Me?

By working with a trained speech professional, you can improve your English pronunciation, often by 50% or more, without completely losing the accent that reflects your heritage.

Would it improve your self-esteem to be understood every time you speak Would you gain self-confidence if you never had to repeat yourself again Would you sleep better at night knowing that your speech no longer negatively impacted your job performance? If you answered yes to those questions, then accent reduction training could be right for you.

First, look for a speech trainer or coach who specializes in accent reduction. Speech pathologists have the highest degree of training in how to teach you to pronounce sounds correctly.

To determine if an accent reduction class will be beneficial, ask for a free screening or consultation and tell the trainer exactly what concerns you have about your speech.

A quality program should include a customized evaluation and a training plan tailored to your individual needs. It may include either individual or small group sessions, since it is often beneficial to hear others practice even if their native language is different from yours.

Your classes may be held in person at your office or at the office of your speech coach. Alternately, you may choose to have private lessons via webcam, a more private and often more cost-effective option.

During the sessions, you should learn to hear the differences in your speech, discover a new way to pronounce troublesome words, and practice your new skills in relevant conversation.

Reducing your accent will require a time of dedication and practice on your part, but by working with a qualified speech professional and practicing at home, you will soon find yourself communicating more easily with everyone around you.

As Anthony Robbins says, “The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

Don’t you want a better quality of life?

Then make a difference in your life by enhancing your communication skills. Find an accent reduction class today, because every word counts.

Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at http://www.losemyaccent.com? It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free tips on how to improve your communication skills.