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Flashcards of American English Words

American English: The Secret of the Accent

You may have the English language down, but do you know how to speak it with an American accent? Learning the accent is an important part of learning any foreign language. It’s the polish to your language skills. By learning an American accent, your English skills will be showcased. You will not only be an English speaker, but you will get to blend into the culture.

The prospect of learning an accent can be tricky. This isn’t something that a book can teach you. For this, you need the help of native speakers. Don’t worry though, no matter where you are in the world, you have access to plenty of opportunities to learn an American accent.

American radio shows, podcasts, music, and films are all ways for you to experience an American accent. Keep your ears open and listen to the specific way that Americans pronounce their words.

is an online pronunciation dictionary. The database includes words in languages from all over the world, all submitted by native speakers. Find the word you’re looking to pronounce and then find a pronunciation from the United States. Depending on the word, there may be a few listed, giving you a more developed sense of the different kinds of American accent.

The downfalls to the site are that, because it relies on users to contribute it to, you may not find all the words you’re looking for, and the site itself is not the most user-friendly. Nonetheless, it is a very useful tool.

Language Exchange
While listening is incredibly important to learning an accent, actually conversing with someone with that accent is the best way for you to pick it up. Mimicking the way that they say things and asking them for feedback and advice is essential. Sometimes it can be hard to tell when you are pronouncing something wrong because, to your ear, it sounds right. Having someone there to help you navigate the complications of accents is important.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of language exchange, the idea is that you can get one-on-one assistance with learning a foreign language without paying anything. Instead of using money, use your time. Your partner teaches you a skill, and in return you teach them. Find an American English speaker looking to partner in your area, or use Skype to connect from across the world! You can connect with a partner through sites like LRNGO or find a Meetup group in your area dedicated to language exchange.

The more you interact with native speakers, the more opportunities you will get to practice that accent. Beyond a language exchange partner, open up your home to American travellers with sites like Couchsurfing, or get immersed yourself by using sites like Helpx or WWOOF, which give you the opportunity to connect with people all over the world and work for them temporarily for room and board.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and even though learning an accent can be tricky, it is possible!

Photo Credit: Susana Fernandez
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