Nothing is as American as baseball, and this is the time of year for Spring Training – baseball’s preseason practice games which help the teams prepare for the main season. As I have been helping some clients prepare for work presentations recently, I thought that we could benefit from some Spring Training on our American accents, too.
In baseball, spring training is a chance for more experienced players to practice some skills that they may not have used in a while, and an opportunity for new players to get their feet wet in a game before the competitive season starts. Those who participate in Spring Training definitely have a competitive edge over those who wait for the “real” season to begin.
When it comes to American accent training, many people wait until they have a crisis to begin working on their pronunciation. Maybe they have a huge presentation or a job interview in just a couple of weeks, or perhaps they were just passed over for a promotion at work. While you can make improvements in your accent in just a few weeks, you will see much greater improvement- and feel much less stress – when you plan ahead and begin training before the “big game”, so to speak. That way, when the big event comes, whether it is a presentation, a job interview, or the opportunity for a promotion, you can focus on demonstrating your superior skills without worrying about your accent. Your pronunciation practice will have paid off.
So, let’s begin our spring training together with those very words: Spring Training. One common mispronunciation that I hear is a difficulty with the -ing ending. There are actually two very common pronunciation errors that occur with this ending sound. The first is the short I sound. Often, it is incorrectly pronounced as a long E. The second problem happens with the NG sound. This sound, when made correctly, involves pushing the back of the tongue up against the palate in the back of the mouth. Many non-native speakers substitute an N sound for the NG. However, the N is made in the front of the mouth while the NG is made in the back.
If you want to hear me pronounce these sounds, be sure to listen to the audio download at the bottom of the post. We want to hear Spring Training, not Spreen traineen. When you substitute the N sound, it sounds like you are saying THIN for THING or SIN for SING. If you change the vowel and the NG sound, it sounds like you are saying BREEN for bring, SEEN for SING, and THEEN for thing.
Now try saying these words: bring, sing , thing, ring, going.
Now try them in short sentences:
- Please bring me a towel.
- Can he sing?
- What is that thing?
- She has a beautiful ring.
- I have to be going now.
Commit to your own spring training and practice along with me until you can say these sounds with ease. Whether you are a fan of baseball or not, this kind of spring training will get you ready for big payoffs with your American accent.
If you’re still having trouble with the pronunciation of these sounds or others, please visit www.losemyaccent.com to take your free accent screening. I want others to hear you and not your accent.
Listen to or download the podcast here and practice your pronunciation along with me:
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