Americans are a diverse bunch, so it can be challenging to get an American accent right. There are so many different kinds of American accents; even within those accents, there are sub-regions and subcultures with unique sounds. There is a high probability that you might need American accent training at some point in the journey.
Different kinds of American accents
The first reason it’s good to know about these different American accents is that they come from other regions within the United States. If you grew up in one region and moved somewhere else later in life, your dialect might change but not by much; or it might even change quite a bit based on the culture. Either way, knowing what kind of dialects exist will help you get started on developing your version of an authentic-sounding American accent if you’re learning English as a second language (ESL).
The mouth and jaw, in particular, are essential for making sounds like /u/ (as in “put”) and /r/. It will be hard to sound American if you can’t make the right sounds with your mouth and jaws.
There are lots of exercises that can help build up those muscles.
You’ll learn American sounds by making American sounds, not memorising rules.
Learning American sounds is not easy. That’s because there are a lot of them, and they change frequently, and it’s hard to know what you’re listening for. As you learn new words, remember that these rules may not apply to every word or phrase.
Instead of memorising rules about how different sounds work together in the American accent training, try to make the sounds yourself. If you can hear someone making an American sound correctly, you’ll know how it’s supposed to sound when you try it yourself.
Be a little lazier when you speak.
The first thing to do is to relax a little. While being more aware of your accent is important, it’s also just as important not to worry about it too much. If you feel yourself becoming tense or worried about sounding like a foreigner when speaking, then the chances are that this will hurt how well you can imitate an American accent.
The best way forward is by being aware of how some Americans speak but not worrying about replicating them.
Instead of striving for perfection in every sentence, aim to get most of what you say across clearly enough so that other people understand (even if it’s not 100% correct).
These sounds are tricky
These sounds are tricky. The “th” sound is one of the most challenging sounds to learn for non-native English speakers. Still, you’ll find that it is especially problematic for those who speak other languages with different alphabets or no alphabet at all. For example, in Arabic and Hebrew, there is no letter for “th”, and so the sound does not exist in those languages. Learning this sound can be very challenging if you are from a country where these letters aren’t used (like China).
Pronounce every sound in every word
If you’re like most people, you don’t want to make mistakes when speaking in English. It feels embarrassing and can be hard to recover from if you’re not being understood. But if you want to improve your accent, that’s precisely what you need to do: get comfortable making mistakes.
Americans read out loud more than you think.
Americans read out loud more than you think. You can do it too!
Reading aloud is a great way to learn how to pronounce words and hear how your accent sounds. It also helps you learn new vocabulary and get familiar with American culture.
As you can see, there are many ways to talk like an American. It’s all about finding a way that works for you! Keep practising and listening to many different speakers until, one day, it comes naturally.