American Pronunciation Help: End the Frustration!

Today I want to share with you a video that my 11 year old daughter put together for me. I’m so proud of her and the video editing talents she is developing ! But I really wanted to share this, not to brag on my daughter, but to offer hope to those who are discouraged by their American pronunciation. Learning a new language is hard work, and mastering it to the point of feeling comfortable and confident can seem like an impossible task. If you are tired of being misunderstood and feel like you’ll never fit in, this video is for you.

[VIDEO HERE]

If you liked the video, please share it with your friends. I want you to know that you don’t need to feel frustrated or embarrassed any longer. You CAN speak English more clearly. Visit www.losemyaccent.com today and start learning the American pronunciation you’ve always wanted.

How did Sofia Vergara get on Modern Family without losing her accent?

How did Sofia Vergara get on Modern Family without losing her accent? Do Americans have a double standard when it comes to accepting foreign accents?

Why are accents sexy and appealing coming from movie or TV stars, but aggravating or unacceptable coming from our co-workers or professors?

Or is it simply that some accents are more acceptable than others?

Last week while being interviewed on Regis and Kelly, Sofia Vergara admitted her own surprise at being so successful on American television in spite of her Colombian accent. When asked if she was disappointed not to have won an Emmy, she replied, “I won already just to be there with this accent! I never thought I was going to be part of a show like Modern Family or have a role that was going to be able to be nominated for anything with this accent!”

Despite her beauty and acting talent, she still believed that her accent would prevent her from being truly successful. So, why did it work for her? Are Americans more forgiving of her accent because she is famous, or is there something different about her accent compared to, for example, the teachers in Arizona being forced to reduce their accent to stay in the classroom?

I believe that it is because some individuals’ accents are easier to understand than others. Some people have mastered the ability to speak English clearly while still retaining parts of the intonation and pronunciation of their native language. Sofia has studied English long enough to master the necessary pronunciation while still revealing her Colombian heritage. So, even though we clearly hear the accent, we also easily understand what she says.

And this is, or should be, the goal of accent reduction training: to learn to speak English clearly enough to be easily understood, without losing all traces of your heritage.

Exactly what that looks like will be very different to different people. As an accent reduction specialist and speech coach, my job is to help non-native English speakers achieve their personal goals in American English pronunciation. For some, that means sounding “as American as possible.” For others, it means being easily understood but still having an “accent” from their home country.

Neither one is right or wrong; the important goals are being easily understood by others and feeling comfortable and confident when you speak.

So whether your dream is to be as successful as Sofia Vergara on Modern Family, to blend in inconspicuously with your American neighbors, or something in between, if you take the steps to work on your American English pronunciation, you are headed toward your dream.

If you’re ready to take the first step towards your dream of clearer English pronunciation, be sure to get your FREE guide to American pronunciation when you visit www.losemyaccent.com .

Hispanic Heritage Month: Let’s Celebrate!

Hola!

Because this month is Hispanic Heritage Month, I will be featuring tips and stories that are especially interesting to our Hispanic readers.

I want to start out by addressing a common concern. This is a reprint of a blog post from last winter, but it seemed to be perfect for the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. This month is set aside to honor your heritage, but I know that some of you worry that if you decide to improve your English pronunciation, you will lose part of your heritage.

Are you afraid that if you want to lose your accent, your family and friends will feel that you are abandoning them and your native culture? Please do not let this fear keep you from doing something that you know will benefit you. Your family and friends love you and want the best for you. If you are living in an English speaking culture now, you want to give yourself every opportunity to succeed, and that includes making sure that your English is easy to understand.

No one is asking you to forget your heritage or pretend you are someone you are not. When we talk about losing or reducing your accent, we are really talking about changing those parts of your pronunciation that make your English difficult for others to understand. Most people, even after completing accent reduction classes, will still have traces of their accent in their everyday speech. Ideally, your goal is not to eliminate the accent completely, but to change the parts of it that make it difficult to understand. Ultimately, the goal should be to have the best of both worlds: an accent that sets you apart as a native of your homeland while still being completely understandable in English.

So, let’s celebrate your past during Hispanic Heritage Month, and celebrate your future with some American pronunciation tips especially for you over the next few weeks.

If you have a story about overcoming a language barrier when coming to the United States, or another success story that you think would fit well on this blog, please contact me and let me know. I would love to feature some of your stories this month and let your successes shine during Hispanic Heritage Month.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah: American Pronunciation of the SH sound

As our Jewish friends are well aware, today is Rosh Hashanah. This day is the Jewish New Year, and is considered to be “the birthday of the world”. A hallmark of the celebrations is the blowing of a shofar, which is a long, curled Ram’s horn. Though I am not Jewish, I love the symbolism in all the Jewish feasts, and so my family tries to observe these holidays as we understand them. My favorite part of the Rosh Hashanah celebration is called the Tashlikh, which is a time when everyone gathers by a river or other body of water and empties their pockets or throws stones into the river. Some traditions tell you to write on the stone something that you want to be forgiven for, and the act of throwing it in the water symbolically gives you a fresh start.

We all need a fresh start once in a while, and I love this holiday for its reminders to throw away the old and start fresh in the new year.

In what areas could you use a fresh start?

What about in the area of your American pronunciation? You may want to wish your Jewish friends blessings on Rosh Hashanah, but if you can’t say the SH sound, they will have a hard time understanding you.

Let’s take just a minute to talk about how the SH sound is made. You need to push your lips forward, flatten your tongue, and let the sides of your tongue touch your upper teeth. Blow air over the top of your tongue and say , “SHH”.

Great!

Now try a few words like shoe, ship, and shut.

Next, try shofar.

And now, Rosh Hashanah.

Once you’re feeling confident, put it all together with this sentence:

We hear a shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.

Make a fresh start today with the SH sound. Wish someone a happy Rosh Hashanah and improve your American pronunciation, all at the same time!

Want more tips to improve your American pronunciation? To get your FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, just enter your name and e-mail in the box to your right.

Listen to the podcast of this post here:

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