In this article, you’re going to learn the most common American English pronunciation problems that you probably have. Let’s start!
Are you often misunderstood and disengaged from conversations quickly no matter how much you study English? In this case, the problem is most probably in your accent. If you have a strong accent that prevents you from communicating with Americans, you may want to consider a program that offers accent reduction or accent training.
People always ask us, “How can I reduce my accent?”, “Is it even possible to speak like an American?”. You may be asking the same questions and looking for an answer.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! ChatterFox is always here to help you reduce your strong accent and speak American English naturally and clearly. So, learning American accent is not impossible; all you need to do is practice hard and be confident.
Do you still have problems speaking with Americans even though you practice American English pronunciation? Maybe you’re missing something or doing it wrong. But don’t worry; ChatterFox will show you the right way. In this article, you’re going to learn the most common American pronunciation problems that you probably have. Let’s start!
1. Not using the correct intonation while speaking (First American Pronunciation Problems)
In the previous article, we talked about the importance of stress and how much it affects your speech. Just like stress, intonation is one of the key factors every non-native English speaker must know and use.
In fact, many non-native speakers don’t use intonation when asking questions, and this causes them to sound unnatural.
Intonation has two basic rules:
- When you’re asking WH- questions (what, who, when, where), the pitch of your voice should go down in the last word of the sentence:
What are you DOing? ↘ (Falling Intonation)
- When you want to ask a question that can be answered with YES or NO, the pitch of your voice should rise up in the last word of the sentence:
Are you coMING? ↗ (Rising Intonation)
Intonation will have a huge effect on your speaking once you learn how to use these two patterns. But unfortunately, many non-native speakers don’t realize the importance of it. If you want to sound more natural while speaking American English, make sure you use intonation. (Want to learn more about intonation? Check these articles: 1- INTONATION to show EMOTION, 2- Intonation in Questions)
2. Mispronouncing the word ‘THE’
the second common American Pronunciation Problems is Mispronouncing the word ‘THE’. “The“ is the most common word in English as we see it almost every sentence. And yet, if you don’t know how to pronounce it correctly, you’ll often sound unnatural to the native speakers.
However, many non-native speakers don’t pay much attention to this simple word, but you should always keep in mind that your goal is to speak American English clearly and naturally and to do that, you must start from the basics.
The has two different pronunciations depending on the following word:
- Thǝ: if the following word starts with a consonant, we pronounce the with a schwa at the end. For example: thǝ book, thǝ car, thǝ course…
- Thiy: if the following word starts with a vowel, we pronounce the with an /iy/ sound as in the word Green. For example: thiy answer, thiy end, thiy umbrella…
Mispronouncing the word the will not cause you communication problems, but it’s really important if you want to sound clear and natural. Pronouncing the most common word in English correctly will have a strong effect on your fluency in American English.
3. Speaking too quickly or slowly
Speaking too quickly or slowly is another common American Pronunciation Problems. Americans surely speak English fast, so you may think you should speak with the same pace to be able to sound like them. But things are not that simple.
Americans speak fast because it’s their native language; they know how to reduce their words and where to use the correct stress and intonation. Unlike you, it’s not something they learned; they do it automatically.
Instead of trying to speak too quickly or slowly, you need to focus on speaking clearly to be understood. To do this, you should practice the essential features of spoken English such as linking words, contractions, stress, and intonation.
Once you get used to these features and know how to use them in your speech, you’ll be automatically speaking with the same pace and rhythm as Americans do.
4. Mispronouncing certain consonants and vowels in American English
When you study English, you mostly focus on words and letters to improve your vocabulary. However, you should also pay attention to the sounds you make for better pronunciation.
There are certain sounds that are unique for American English; such as /θ/,/ð/, /ɹ/, and /ə/. Unless you don’t know how to pronounce them correctly, your speech will be odd and unclear to the native speakers.
In order not to be misunderstood and discouraged while speaking with Americans, you must, by all means, learn to use the correct vowel and consonant sounds.
Respelling words is a good practice method to improve your pronunciation of the challenging sounds in American English. Repeat the most difficult to pronounce words until you feel you’re ready. Don’t give up, you can do it!
Bottom Line for American Pronunciation Problems
Speaking with perfect American English pronunciation requires patience and determination. But once you set your mind to it, you can speak even better than a native! Don’t think that your strong accent will never let you speak English like an American, you can reduce your accent and speak naturally as long as you avoid these common communication problems and of course, study hard!
Good pronunciation skills will help you express your feelings and opinions to your speakers better. At ChatterFox, we are always here to help you speak American English with confidence and hold enjoyable and deep conversations with local people. So, don’t forget to visit our website!