Categories
Accents American

How to reduce German accent for American English

How can you reduce your accent and improve your American English? German native speakers tend to have an oral posture characterised by a tight lip. If you pay attention to their mouths when speaking, their lips come together and they show less teeth, compared to American speaking. Watch my best impression of German curse words and see how tight the lips are:

In order to pull off a convincing German accent, you must make the jaw and lips tight. Whereas for American English quite the opposite must happen- the jaw must be lax. So developing an accent is all about CONTROL. We must allow the jaw to control the articulation/speech to sound American. How? Do these three exercises:

Exercise 1 Lips

The exaggerated smile. Lips corners stretch back fully. Next, lips corners join like a goldfish. German as well as French speakers will benefit from this exercise.

German as well as French speakers will benefit from this exercise. It retrains your lips and cheek muscle for optimal English pronunciation.

Exercise 2 Jaw

Bring the jaw on side to side and make kissing sounds on each side. This may look silly but it will loosen the jaw so you can sound more American with this one exercise. Repeat for a few minutes daily until it becomes second nature. Watch the video from 1.16.

Exercise 3 Tongue

To improve your American accent, we need full control of our tongue too. So here is an exercise for your to harness your tongue muscle. With the following exercise, you should be able to articulate ever-important sounds for American English such as the retroflex R or bunched R sounds.

For further reading related to “how to reduce your accent” or to gain more insight into developing an optimal English accent, check this article.

Categories
Accents American

The Happy Secret To Developing An Optimal English Accent

The English alphabet is a scam!

I say so because it is non-phonetic meaning the letters will trick you- they will be spelt in another way than you might think. For example take the word about. Instead of əˈbaʊt (UH-BOUT) learners are likely to say æbaʊt (AH-BOUT).

Vowel Chart

So there is a very subtle difference in tongue movement (we are talking about a matter of millimeters). This will make the difference between giving the impression your English is not so proficient and being accepted as a native speaker! So, here is the secret weapon for perfecting your English accent: Enter, vowel chart!

The vowel chart is a cross-section of the inside of your mouth. It will help you to become mindful of tongue movement. Where is your tongue when you say the vowel sound in cheese (IPA symbol of EE is i:)

The tip of your tongue reaches close to the alveolar ridge, a few millimeters before your upper teeth.

Matter of millimeters

How about when you say the vowel sound in moon *(IPA symbol of OO is u:)? The back of the tongue gets bunched and moves back into the mouth, upwards.

You can remember the tongue goes up for the vowel sound i: (cheese, please, seed) with this phrase: reaching for the cheese.

In addition, you can close your eyes and really get mindful of tongue movement. Try say i: + u: (chEESE, mOOn) and feel the tongue shift back and forth.

Get even more mindful of your tongue generating the u: sound by being conscious of how the sides of the back tongue touches the inner molar teeth- very delicate, but I’m telling you these are the sensibilities that must be considered for a flawless accent.

Difficulties for Asian students

Sometimes my Asian and European students have difficulty differentiating between a long vowel and short vowel sound. They would say: spickers instead of speakers. The vowel chart makes you realised, you have to move your tongue tip up ever so slightly, a few millimeters- then the air for lungs can take a ride on your elevate tongue for you to successfully pronounce a long vowel EA sound.

Categories
Accents American

How You Can Improve Your English Accent.

Chinese speakers have problems with vowel sounds in English because the modern Chinese alphabet – the Pinyin– is phonetic meaning they should be pronounced the way they look.

As a consequence, instead of əˈbaʊt they are likely to say æbaʊt. That’s AH-bout instead of UH-bout.

Now there is a very subtle difference in tongue movement so, look at the secret weapon for fixing this. Enter, vowel chart!

The vowel chart, also known as the vowel quadrilateral, is a cross-section of the tongue position in the mouth. It shows you the exact coordinates for vowel sounds. For this example, to make the ə sound, it is a central vowel sound meaning your tongue is in the center of your mouth behind the lower teeth. what about the height? Mid height!

If you say æbaʊt (AH-bout) this is WRONG. But it’s equally important to know the vowel chart position for it so you can adjust it to the correct tongue position.

This video was made with ManyCam. It’s a versatile tool for what I call “edutainment”. You can get $10 discount if you click here

Categories
Accents American

IPA Front Vowel Chart

The height of the jaw increases as you pronounce the vowel sounds in the words of this GIF:

The jaw height changes depending on the vowel you are articulating. Enter vowel chart, the secret weapon for perfecting your English accent on the condition that your tongue height and position hit the coordinates:

The vowel chart is a cross-section of your vocal tract. In other words, it shows the required height and position of your tongue for producing various vowel sounds. This is the ultimate tool for being mindful of the highly-discarded language learning super tool- the tongue! The vowel chart should be called an instruction manual for the tongue.

The vowel chart should be considered as an instruction manual for the tongue.

Teacher Matthew/Matty, Sorry For My Good English.

If you want to pronounce the /i:/ correctly in ice cream, look at the coordinates on the map, so to speak. Watch the video:

Categories
Accents American

Back Vowel Sounds

Listen to this melody. In which position is your tongue when you sing/say the sounds? By the way the sounds are u: in typhoon ( taɪˈfuːn) and ɔː like oo in floor (flɔːr). 🎶

There are three choices:

  • tongue towards the back
  • tongue is flat
  • tongue is towards the front.

Answer: Tongue is towards the back.

Close your eyes, sing along and feel how your tongue slides deeper in your mouth.

Now put consonants in front of these back vowel sounds and become aware of how the tongue must glide deeper in your mouth to generate u: and ɔː. How about practising with typhoon 🌀⛈( taɪˈfuːn) and floor (flɔːr)? 🥊 🎶

taɪˈfn ⛈ flɔːrz 🥊 🎶

Use this imaginative melody phrase to remember the back vowel sounds:

Your task: think of more words with back vowel sounds. You can use a rhyme generator and create your own rhyme so you can memorise the back tongue position for these sounds.

Check out my youtube video for ideas:

Categories
Accents American

Central Vowel Sounds

There are three central vowel sounds to watch out for. ə (sighing sound uh), ʌ(as in pizza hut) s and ɑː (card).

The tongue is more or less in a flat position for pronouncing these central vowel sounds.

You can become mindful of your tongue position by conjuring up an imaginative phrase that contains these central vowel sounds:

ðə ɡʌn əˈlɑːm

Phonetic Translation for “the gun alarm”

Now add some uplifting melody so you can associate it with the tongue position for central vowel sounds:

Check out the video blog version:

Use this rhyme generator https://rhymebrain.com/en so you can create your own central vowel rhyme in the comments section.

Categories
Accents American British

Front Vowel Sounds

Look in a mirror and say the sounds in these words: ” ea”(scream), “i” (flip), “e” (jet), “a” (tan). What do you notice about the jaw? It gets wider and wider for every word.

Look closely at your tongue and you can see for each word the tongue gets more deflated with every word (from scream to tan). The midline of the tongue actually deflates like a beachball on steroids when you transition from an “e” to an “a” sound.

JAW HEIGHT increases as the vowel sounds are made from scrEAm, flIp, jEt, tAn.
Categories
Accents American

The first step is to become mindful of your tongue

If you’re have a desire to improve your English accent (American or British) you should focus on one thing at a time. In the context of accent training, focus on one body part at a time. Can you guess which part though? Here are some hints:

  1. It seldom sees the light of day but does on the dentist’s chair-albeit artificial.
  2. It is extremely strong.
  3. It is highly discarded in language learning and communication in general.
  4. It is rather associated with something racy instead of accent prowess.

It’s the tongue. Now let’s identify the default position of it- sort of when a motorboat is in a stationary position in an ocean (of saliva) in your mouth. *Sigh* to park the motorboat in its default position. Sigh through a ‘duh’ sound and feel your lips, jaw and tongue relax. Now your tongue should be somewhat in the middle of the mouth. Close your eyes so you can turn on your tongue GPS. Now that you’ve located the default position of the tongue, what happens to it when you see this and articulate it?

Coffee beans or /ˈkɑː.fi biːnz/

“Coffee beans!”. So from the default DUH position of the tongue, it should move to ea/ee. Does the tongue move forward or backward? Answer: It moves forward to just in front of the lower teeth. Congratulations! You’ve just gained more insight into language learning the most people will because getting to know your tongue will unleash your fluency potential. Below is a video to show you the default tongue position and the new front position it must engage in to generate the /iː/

Categories
Accents American

R-colored vowels

Learn how to pronounce the characteristic R (ER) sound in American English by paying attention to your tongue.

To make the ɚ sound roll the tongue tip or bunch the back of the tongue.

Listen to a native recording then to yourself and make adjustments to your oral posture. Look at your lips in the mirror and feel how your tongue moves. Become mindful of the back of the tongue and teeth so you can replicate an amazing American accent!

Categories
Conjunctions grammar

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join dependent clauses with independent clauses. In other words, they connect incomplete sentences with complete ones. They can be memorised using the acronym: I SAW A WABUB.

  • If
  • Since
  • As
  • When
  • After
  • While
  • Although
  • Before
  • Until
  • Because

If the subordinating conjunction is stated at the start, use a comma to separate the clauses. If however it is mentioned at the end, no comma is needed.

If interest rates decrease and the stock market performs well, a bull bond’s value is expected to increase.

A bull bond’s value is expected to increase if interest rates decrease and the stock market performs well.

Since the stocks in any sector are usually correlated with each other, they can be very volatile.

Sector funds can be very volatile since the stocks in any sector are usually correlated with each other.

As the name implies, equity funds invests predominantly in stocks.

Equity funds invest primarily in stocks as the name implies.

While you were at your meeting, the package arrived.

The package arrived while you were at your meeting.