Months of the Year with an American Accent

 

 

Hi, It’s Lisa Scott with losemyaccent.com. For the next several weeks, we are going to talk about the pronunciation of some everyday calendar words and the correct use of prepositions with those words. In this video, we will be reviewing the correct pronunciation of the 12 months of the year. As you follow along with me, be sure to pay attention to both the pronunciation of the words and to the syllable stress. Emphasizing the wrong syllable can make it harder to be understood. The first few months have the stress on the first syllable.

So, let’s get started. January. Remember that there is the word “you” in the middle of the word.

January. I love to see the beautiful snow in January. January.

That one was simple enough, I hope. But now we get to February, and there is an ongoing debate about the correct pronunciation. The original “correct” pronunciation was Feb-ru-ary. But more and more often, we are seeing the much easier pronunciation of Feb-you-ary. Most dictionaries now list both pronunciations as correct, so if I were you, I would choose the simpler and more popular pronunciation of Feb-you-ary.

February. Valentine’s Day is always in February. February.

March. The weather in March is often windy and unpredictable. March.

April. Spring flowers bloom in April. April.

May. In May, we celebrate Mother’s Day. May.

June. Summer begins in June. June.

July. Americans celebrate Independence Day in July. July.

August. Many students go back to school in August. August.

September. Did you notice the stress on the second syllable? All the months up until this one have has the stress on the first syllable, but now it changes. The rest of the months will have the stress on the second syllable.

September. I like to go hiking in September. September.

October. In October, the leaves turn beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange. October.

November. We are very thankful for Thanksgiving in November. November.

December. Christmas comes in December every year. December.

Have you ever wondered how to remember which months have 30 days and which have 31? There’s a rhyme that most Americans learned as a child to keep it straight and it goes like this:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November;
February has twenty-eight alone,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting leap-year, that’s the time
When February’s days are twenty-nine.

Well, we’ve come to the end of our calendar year, and I hope you’ve learned some new tips for pronouncing those month names correctly. Next week, we’ll be talking about the days of the week, so be sure to watch for that video. And meanwhile, come visit our facebook page at facebook.com/losemyaccent. I’ll see you there!

 

American Pronunciation of Stare and Steer: What’s the Difference?

Welcome! In this video, you get some American pronunciation practice as we talk about the difference between the words stare and steer. We’ll talk about the double meanings of each word and how they are pronounced, and you will improve your American accent as you learn how to say each sound.

 

Episode #1 – Your New Year’s American Pronunciation goals

 

Transcript:

Hi, It’s Lisa Scott with losemyaccent.com. Have you written your New Year’s Resolutions or set those New Year’s goals? I will tell you in just a minute why that might not be a good idea.

But first, I want to share with you how excited I am about some of the new developments we have here at Accentuate. One of the biggest changes is that we are moving to much more video this year. When you ask pronunciation questions, it is so much easier for me to explain them when you can actually see what I’m explaining. So, starting today, the majority of my blog posts will be videos rather than written articles.

You have asked for some lower priced video trainings, and those are coming as well. I have an all new 6 week series that is almost ready for you, so I’ll be sharing the details very soon. I can tell you that since my birthday is at the end of January, I will be running a very special birthday sale as I launch this new series.

And lastly, I have started a Facebook page that is just for us to talk about your questions and concerns regarding American pronunciation. So, come visit me at www.facebook.com/losemyaccent and tell your friends to join us too. Introduce yourself, share your concerns with learning English, and ask your questions about pronunciation, grammar, intonation – whatever is on your mind! I will try to answer simple questions on the page and I will choose some of them as topics for future blog post videos. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you there!

And now, back to my comment at the beginning on why New Year’s Resolutions might not be a good idea.  People make them every year and every year they get frustrated because they just can’t stick with them. But what if instead of focusing on the specific goal, you focus on the outcome, or who you want to be when you meet that goal. Let’s take the example of setting a goal to reduce your accent. You could set a measurable goal of improving 50% on a pronunciation test, and that would be great. But you don’t really care if you score 50% higher on that test, do you? What you really care about is being understood more easily, not having to repeat yourself, and feeling confident when you speak English. Right? Those are outcomes rather than goals, and it is those outcomes that truly make you feel like you’ve accomplished your goal.

So, how do you change your focus? First, you think about your goals for the year one by one and think about how you will be different when you meet that goal. What will you gain by meeting that goal? What will the outcome be? That is your true motivator and the way to help you stay focused to accomplish that goal.

And if one of your goals is to improve your American pronunciation, and the outcome you are looking for is to be understood more easily and feel more confident when you speak, then I hope you will be an active part of our community this year. Watch these videos, share your questions on the facebook page, and let me know what I can do to serve you as you work towards the outcomes you desire in 2013.

See you next time!

 

 

Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer Contest

Today’s post is a contest I ran a couple of years ago, but since we have added lots of new readers since then, I decided to post it again – and yes, I am running the contest again, too. Be sure to send me your entry!

Ever get frus­trated try­ing to improve your spo­ken Eng­lish by read­ing writ­ten Eng­lish? Or won­der why two words that are spelled com­pletely dif­fer­ently are pro­nounced exactly the same? With cer­tain words, you have to hear them in con­text in order to fig­ure out which word, and which spelling, was intended.

lose my accent spellcheck

Today’s entry is a humor­ous look at how using spellcheck on your com­puter might sub­sti­tute cor­rectly spelled words in a com­pletely wrong con­text. Give your­self a spelling chal­lenge and see if you can fig­ure out how the words really should be spelled.

To make it more fun, I’m turn­ing it into a contest!

Here’s how the con­test works: Rewrite the poem with the cor­rect spellings for the con­text, leave a comment below telling me what you’d like to learn in your free coaching session, and then e-mail your completed poem to me at lisa at losemyaccent dot com. Don’t post your corrected poem below- just let me know what you’d like to learn if you win the free session! From all the cor­rect entries, I will select one win­ner on Wednesday, August 21st to receive a free 30 minute coach­ing ses­sion with me! This is a $50 value! We can work on pro­nun­ci­a­tion, gram­mar, idioms, or other Eng­lish top­ics. It’s up to you!

Please share this with your friends on FB, Twit­ter, and other sites; I want as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to have a chance to win! Good luck!

Here’s the poem:

Eye halve a spelling che­quer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly mar­ques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its let­ter per­fect in it’s weigh
My che­quer tolled me sew.

— Sauce unknown

 

Don’t for­get — when you fig­ure it out, post a comment below to tell what you’d like to learn in your free coaching session, then e-mail me your poem. Check back on Thursday, August 23rd to see if you are the lucky winner!

Share with your friends by clicking on the buttons below:

 

Turn Over a New Leaf in your American English Pronunciation

It was raining cats and dogs at my house yesterday!

Understanding idioms is an important part of mastering American English. Wouldn’t you agree? After all, even perfect pronunciation can’t help you if you have no idea what the other person means.

A powerful rainstorm yesterday knocked most of our beautiful leaves to the ground, and as I was looking at those fall leaves, I thought about some idioms and expressions that use the word leaf.

If you are quickly skimming through a book, you might say that you are leafing through it.

We leafed through several books looking for the right information.

Next spring, the trees will once again have tiny green leaves growing on them. Sometimes it seems as if they appear almost overnight. When the leaves appear, we say that the tree has leafed out.

The trees leafed out earlier this year, didn’t they?

If you are scared or nervous about a certain situation, you might be shaking like a leaf.

I was so nervous about that job interview that I was shaking like a leaf.

On the other hand, if you have made a decision to change or improve the way you do something, you could say that you are turning over a new leaf.

No more smoking for me! I’m turning over a new leaf.

Some of you have decided to turn over a new leaf with your American pronunciation, haven’t you? Your old speech patterns just aren’t working well enough and it’s time to make a change.

Now is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and get in some pronunciation practice before the holidays.

Just to see who is serious about turning over a new leaf, I will be following American tradition by offering a Black Friday special. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it simply means a special sale offered only the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. I can’t tell you all the details yet, but it will be a fully-downloadable home study product at a price that will knock your socks off! (That’s another idiom that means: you will be pleasantly surprised!)

So, be watching for an update next week. And if you’re not on my email list, be sure to sign up in the box on the right where it says “Free Report”. That way, you’ll be among the first to know about the special when it’s ready for you!

See you next week!

American Pronunciation: Go To, Got To, or Gotta?

One of my readers, Peter, sent me a question after reading my recent post on the pronunciation of T in hot tea. He wanted to know the difference in the American pronunciation of the expressions go to and got to. I thought this was such as wonderful question that I wanted to address it in a blog post.

To help you hear the differences, I have recorded a video of me explaining the sounds and have also written out the explanation for you below.

[VIDEO]

First, let’s look at the pronunciation of each expression individually.

To pronounce go to, we say the hard G followed by a long O, GO, and then say a crisp, or released T followed by the long U, or OO sound. GO TOO.

To pronounce got to, we will say the hard G followed by the short o or AH vowel, hold the T at the end of the word, then release the T as we say to, with a long u, or OO sound. GAH-TOO

Also, I think we need to mention the shortened version of got to used in more casual conversation: gotta.

To pronounce gotta,we start out exactly the same as with GOT TO, using the AH sound, then blend the two T’s in to a fast T , or D sound, and instead of ending with the precise pronunciation of TO, we shorten and simplify the ending with a SCHWA sound. So, when we put it all together in rapid speech, it becomes GAH-DUH.

Now, let’s talk about when we would use these expressions. GO TO is a verb indicating movement from one place to another. I want to go to the store.

GOT TO indicates either that you were able to do something in the past, or that you need to do something in the future. When talking about the future, you must always use HAVE or HAS with it.

When talking about the past, you might say:

I got to go see a movie yesterday.

OR

They got to ride in the new car.

But, when talking about the future, you would say,

I have got to finish my project.

OR

I’ve got to go get some groceries.

Often in casual conversation, the GOT TO is reduced or simplified to GOTTA, as in:

I’ve gotta go to the store.

So, remember that go to, got to, and gotta each have their own distinct pronunciation and usage. You will impress those around you with your knowledge of American pronunciation when you can use these words correctly. Come on now, you’ve gotta give it a try! What have you got to lose?

Was this post helpful to you? What questions do you have about American pronunciation? Let me know in the comments below!

How Do You Say “Hot Tea”? Do you use the British or American English Pronunciation?

Nothing warms up your insides on a cold day like a nice cup of hot tea, right? And we’ve definitely had our share of cold days this winter, at least in my part of the world!

While coffee is certainly a popular choice, and hot chocolate is a delicious treat after a day in the snow, drinking hot tea is a long-lived tradition. In America, the tradition of drinking hot tea has been passed down from our British ancestors. But we have adopted our own traditions, not only in how we drink it, but even in the American pronunciation of hot tea.

One difference between the American and British pronunciation is in how we pronounce the T sounds at the end of hot and the beginning of tea. In British English, both T sounds will be very precisely and crisply pronounced, with a slight pause between the words: hot tea.

Americans, on the other hand, blend the two words together into one word, and in so doing, only pronounce one T sound. The first T is held and linked with the second T, and the resulting word sounds like: hotea.

Also, the British pronunciation of the vowel in hot uses a longer, more rounded o sound, while the American pronunciation uses the ah sound, or /a/, a shorter, more open-mouthed sound also used in words like father and stop.

This is the same sound you make when you take a sip of your comforting cup of hot tea and say, “Aahh” contentedly.

Both the British and American pronunciation of the final long E sound cause you to smile at the end of the word. Appropriate, don’t you think?

So, let’s put it all together and practice the American pronunciation of hot tea.

First, be sure to pronounce the H at the beginning of the word.

Next, say hot using the relaxed “aah” vowel.

Then, hold that first T sound, then release it as you say tea.

Finally, make a big smile so you get that long eee sound clearly at the end.

Now you can enjoy a warm drink while practicing the American pronunciation of hot tea! Aren’t you ready for a nice, relaxing break?

When I really want to treat myself, I snuggle under a blanket with a cup of chai or Mighty Leaf brand tea. What is your favorite brand or flavor? Let me know in the comments below; I may want to give it a try!

To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click on the button below:

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Will You Sing at the Spring Fling? Or, the American English pronunciation of the -ing Sound

Now that spring has sprung, it’s got me thinking about that -ing sound that keeps showing up in conversation and is so important in American English pronunciation. Not only has spring sprung, but you may be asked to sing at a spring fling, or wonder who is going to the prom, or worry about how the students are doing who are taking final exams. June is the most popular month for a wedding, and of course the happy couple will need wedding rings.

So, to keep up with the conversations that are sure to include this sound, you must be sure that you can pronounce the -ing sound properly at the end of words. Some common mispronunciations include- inG, where the hard g is emphasized, -ink, where the ng sound is followed by a k sound, and -een, where the vowel and the consonant are changed. The short I is replaced with a long e sound, and the ng sound is shortened to an n. This is not the sound we are looking for.

We want a short I sound, I, followed by the ng sound. This sound is a blend of the n and g sounds, made by pushing the back of the tongue against the soft palate at the top of the mouth, as if you were going to say g, but instead of saying g, say n. It should sound like -ng.

Listen to the recording below to hear the correct pronunciation.

Here are a few practice sentences for you:

  1. Will you sing at the spring fling?
  2. The cat is sitting on a ball of string.
  3. I put a ding in my car.
  4. The king wore a large signet ring on his finger.
  5. Jane had a sling on her arm after she fell.
  6. You are wearing too much bling for the wedding.
  7. Do you like to use the search engine Bing?
  8. The bee will sting you, but not on its wing.
  9. I like to play ping pong.
  10. There is one thing I’d like to know.

How did you do?

If you need something to help you remember to practice this new sound, try tying a piece of string around your ring finger. When people start asking why you are wearing such lovely bling, tell them you are trying to fling away the old pronunciation, and sing a new song of correct American English pronunciation.

For more free, easy pronunciation tips, be sure to download my free guide How to Speak English Like an American .

What did you think of this practice? Too easy? Too hard? Be sure to leave me a comment so I can create more blog posts that are helpful to you. The more you share with me, the more you get what you’re looking for!

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Spring Has Sprung: A Fun Poem for Pronunciation Practice

In the last couple of weeks, spring has suddenly burst into life, with fresh green leaves and beautiful new flowers appearing daily in my yard. Every spring, I am reminded of a silly poem that I heard growing up. I mention it here to give you a taste of American culture, and also because of the fun pronunciation practice. You can download an audio below to hear the correct American English pronunciation.

You need a few pieces of information to better understand the poem. First, ris is a shortened form of risen. It is not grammatically correct, but the poet used it to make the lines rhyme. Second, whitewash is a liquid similar to white paint that is not used much in the US anymore. (Hint: the poet is not talking about actual whitewash). Third, a sissy is someone who is afraid or a coward.

Here is the poem:

Spring has sprung;
The grass has ris.
I wonder where
The birdie is?
There he is
In the sky.
He dropped some
Whitewash in my eye!

I am no sissy;
I won’t cry.
I’m just glad
That cows can’t fly!

Did you get it? I hope it made you laugh a little. And I hope you are enjoying a beautiful, glorious spring day!

Don’t forget to download the audio below of the American English pronunciation of this poem. When you practice, try to make your pronunciation and intonation match mine. And make sure you get your FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, by visiting www.losemyaccent.com

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