If you are an OFW, an Overseas Filipino Worker, or a native seeking a job in English, you may be concerned that your English skills are not good enough to compete with your peers. You want to speak English like an American, but what is the best way to learn? First of all, if you have not done so, you should enroll in ESL classes. These classes are a great way to learn the basics of English grammar and pronunciation. Look online for additional courses and practice opportunities. Speak English at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask others for help if you’re not sure about an English word or expression.
What if you have done all these things, and you feel that you know English pretty well, but other people still don’t understand you? Then you need to find an accent reduction specialist. This person is usually a professional speech pathologist who specializes in accent reduction. He or she has learned how to teach others to produce the sounds in American English. As an accent reduction specialist myself, I want to offer you some tips on English pronunciation to help you get started. Though each person’s language and accent is unique, there are common sounds that many Filipino speakers struggle with in English. I have listed several sounds below and suggestions of ways to sound more American.
- Open your mouth more when saying vowels. Many of the a sounds come out sounding more like o with Filipino speakers. I know it may feel awkward, but you can’t make an a sound without opening your mouth.
- Be sure to enunciate final consonants, particularly ones made inside the mouth, like h, k, and n. Many Filipinos leave these sounds off entirely, which changes the meaning of the word.
- Say w not v, in words like water and where. W is made by rounding the mouth like an o and voicing, then opening the mouth slightly. It may sound like o-uh when you first try it.
- Say f, not p, in words like four and find. F is made by placing the top teeth on the lower lip and blowing slightly.
- Practice hearing and saying the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants. The only difference between k and g or t and d is whether your voice is turned on when you say them. Try it — no voice makes k, and voice makes g. It makes a big difference in American English whether you pronounce those sounds correctly. So remember, k and t have no voice, but g and d do.
Hopefully, those tips will help you to speak English like an American. If you want more personalized help, please visit my website at www.losemyaccent.com and take my free accent screening. I’ll listen to it and send you feedback specific to you. It only takes a few minutes!