After reading this article you may be left with the impression that the best way to learn American English is trough repetition. Until you feel as though you know the selected words by heart and can integrate them into your everyday vocabulary seamlessly. Such an idea is reinforced by accent reduction CD’s and programs such as Rosetta Stone. In truth, you can’t expect any of the techniques learned from these endeavors to stick unless you learn to self evaluate your speech, recognizing not just what words you regularly mispronounce, but why.
This is where the experience of an accent reduction can prove invaluable. As you read through the commonly mispronounced words featured in this article, begin thinking about those words which you personally mispronounce consistently, as your accent coach can use some of the examples you provide as a starting point when developing your own personalized accent reduction program
(often mispronounced as probly or prolly)
When someone speaks rapidly, there is a tendency to drop syllables or sounds that a repeated within a given word, a practice known as haplology. In this case, the sounds made by ‘ob’ and ‘ab’ syllables are almost identical, and since they occur immediately following one another, one invariably gets dropped or changed, resulting in the mispronunciation above.
(often mispronounced as sher-bert)
As you learn American English with a modified accent, you’ll be exposed to a bevy of words such as “sherbet” that are mispronounced and misspelled by native and non native English speakers. The mispronunciation of such words often become so pervasive that after a period of time, it is just assumed by many that the mispronunciation of the word is question is correct. However here, the ‘r’ is pronounced in the first syllable, and not the second.
Silicon /sil-i-kuh n/
(often mispronounced as silicone)
You can learn American English more rapidly by making a mental note of how similar sounding words are differentiated from one another by a single vowel sound. Should you encounter the words “silicon” and “silicone” in a book or newspaper, remember that if the context surrounding the word leads you to believe it refers to computer chips, then there’s no ‘e’ at the end. But if it’s about something rubbery, then it is pronounced silicone. The long “o” sound is emphasized in the second syllable
(often mispronounced as snuck)
Contrary to popular belief, “snuck” is not a grammatically correct word. If you’re looking for the standard past tense and past participle form of “sneak”, it’s sneaked. On the other hand, we must remember that English is a constantly evolving language.
As one begins to learn American English, they must constantly be aware of language trends in slang and on social media platforms. The latter being the pace where the most drastic changes are likely to take place due to the character limitations placed on users whenever they go to type out a message. The work “snuck” is considered nonstandard past tense English. Therefore if you were to use it in conversation with your friends or business acquaintances, it wouldn’t stick out as an egregious grammatical error. Nevertheless, the correct standard past tense form of “sneak” is “sneaked.
(often mispronounced as supposably)
Resist the urge to combine “supposed” and “probably into a single word as you begin your pronunciation. Just remember its original form ‘suppose’ and add the suffix –dly.
(often mispronounced as supremist)
Once again mainly people who are trying to learn American English with an American accent assume that pronouncing this word is simply a matter of taking a root word, supreme, and adding an -ist suffix while being careful to pronounce the word with either a short or long vowel. In so doing, they overlook the short a and “cist” ending in the second half of the word. When approaching this word, don’t forget to pronounce the short a and c sounds.
Learn American English – Where to Start
To understand English grammar concepts in the most efficient way possible, one should first consider practicing through the repetition of grammatically correct sentences. This is, after all, the way children first learn to speak – they listen to their parents and mimic what they say, then they learn to read and write.
Once you begin to learn American English and feel comfortable with its natural rhythm, you will want to become familiar with the basics of grammar. These basics include not only knowing what subjects, verbs, predicated, and articles are, but also knowing when and where to use each of them when speaking.
If you feel like you have the basics of American English down, but you still have a foreign accent while speaking, you have the option of seeing an accent reduction specialist. He or she will provide you with all the necessary tools you would need to improve your pronunciation and bring you one one step closer to speaking American English with a standard American accent.